Mario and Bowser: Frenemies Forever 2
Ludwig's Schemes (Chapter 5)
Disclaimer: Mario and co. belong to Nintendo.
Author note: A few touch ups
Kylie Koopa got off the bus near the tennis stadium. There were yellow banners blocking the entrances but no police around, at least not anymore. She walked around cautiously, camera and grappling hook in hand. Maybe she'd try around back and away from the busy street just in case. The local police station was probably getting sick of her.
Her spine was hit with the sensation of a frigid winter breeze growing in intensity. By the time she reached the coliseum like outer walls, her fingers were too stiff to untie her ropes. Giving up she dropped them to the ground and hugged her arms up, making a decision to take the direct route after all. The tunnel in was dark but she saw the light on the other side. She ran forward to something in the middle of the tennis court. Trash and other items were discarded all around, including an orange flowery hair band.
Kylie picked it up and studied it before seeing a shadow move in the corner of her eye. She whipped back around her found nothing. She then checked the locker rooms. The first was dark inside was faintly musty but also empty aside from something charred up in the center. She reasoned that was the one Bowser used given the Koopa King's known tendencies so she checked the other locker room to find it locked. Light was creeping out from its bottom but that was as far as she could theorize. With other clues picked over she was going call it there, especially since she was now sweating, burning up with a heat inside and out and she wondered what was with the temperature changes. She thought she heard a bell chime and familiar voices some distance away and distorted while she hurriedly stumbled upon discarded Fungus Up soda cans. Feeling to muggy to think, she snapped a picture and retreated back to the exit before she passed out. The last thing she wanted was to do that in the middle of somewhere she shouldn't be.
Bowser had his back against the wall of the hospital under some shade. He kept his voice very low unnaturally while he dialed the number left on a note. "This is Bowser. Fangirl chick, right? I found your little love letter."
Stationed on the hospital's roof, Emery covered her mouth as she squealed. "It's really you again!"
"Listen, you might can help me but.. hmm I just can't see a toad as so loyal.."
"What?! I totally am!" She glanced over her shoulder for security cameras. "I've, like, been a fan since forever. Before my mom took permanent night shifts she would tell me scary stories about you but I was never scared. I even made my own stories. I'm totally a social outcast because of it… Oh and because I don't mind seeing blood and guts and stuff.. but I'm sure it's mostly the Bowser thing why people don't like me. So what do you need me to- uh hello?"
Bowser continued laughing hard. "Just help me get to the bottom of what's going on quicker. You had something about ya, I could tell you were different than most dumb toads. I think you could help after all. Ha!"
Emery checked her back again. "I totally can! I think I still have the number of an old classmate who's with a team that does some things- Uh oh gotta go!" She hid her things away and got into proper position as she spotted a helicopter approaching for landing.
Bowser hung up on his end, eyes still watery from his guffaws when he found a text from 'Plumber Breath' waiting for him… He wondered what Mario had him labeled as in his contacts. Oh whatever. Via the text he learned where room 444 was and found it, putting his ear against the window with blinds blocking a view in. There was talking inside..
"This is it? And what are you doing in here?" This was Mario, he knows.
"Just checking records," replies someone unfamiliar with a low gravely voice, likely literally. Likely a whomp or other rock baddie species.
"Well it's good you're here isn't it? What's wrong, nurse?" Luigi's unmistakable voice asks.
"Prognosis unknown. I will be leaving." The doctor shuffles away with heavy footsteps.
"Oh man! Bro, get a look at this. They are green! Aww..." The bed squeaks as if someone is leaning on the edge. Luigi probably.
"Is t-that bad?" a new soft spoken person asks. It seemed to Bowser like that boo diddly 'loser' tag-along.
"I'd say so since they certainly weren't during the game. I- I mean I would know from the umpire position!" That is Peach for sure nearest to the window. If only he had a visual from the rear, Bowser thought with a dark chuckle. He tapped lightly on the window to capture their attention, not really sure why he'd hesitated that long. Bowser didn't know what he thought he'd glean from eavesdropping the Mario brats. Even if he heard something bad said against him it's not like he'd care, he reassured himself.
Shortly the window and the blinds slid up just few inches for him, courtesy of Mario. Bowser could now see Toad and Daisy on beds with an iv system hooked to them along with beeping computers. Their skin had a pale green hue. Luigi was clutching on the ends of Daisy's bed with Boo right behind him. Yoshi was silently watching something on their monitors and Peach's reaction was hidden by facing the other way.
"I'm doing something about this right now. 'Prognosis unknown' my royal pedicured feet! They've had ample time to do something!" she said, facing Mario. The plumber seemed wound up to reply when Bowser cut him off.
"I like that new attitude 'Hotness'!" Bowser was still eyeing Peach's backside when suddenly the window shut and nearly took off his claws with it.
Inside the room, Mario sheepishly spun back around after ridding everyone of that nuisance. "Sorry. Are all for shutting this place down? Uh, perfect!"
"W-wait...I heard something on the phone."
Everyone turned to Boo. "You mean on the internet?" Luigi asked.
After gulping Boo shook their head. "Not a smart phone, the hospital's phone. While I was hiding some doctors were talking. They said about sixty are sick right now in this building and then one of their phones on the wall just rung and no one was around and and- Oh don't let anyone know I answered! Some other hospital is paying this one to do something really weird and usual!" Shivering, Boo backed themselves in a corner.
"As if we didn't have enough reasons to take control," Peach held the handle to the door. "As the princess this place will listen to me from now on-" She swung it open.
"Visiting time over!" Announced the blue shy cheekily, Azul as his name badge stated, standing in the door way.
Peach and everyone else brushed past the nurse, ignoring him completely.
Azul panicked and followed, trying to keep up and wave them down. "Guys! I mean it! Doctor Professor Koopa is the new leader as of thirty minutes ago! Princess, you don't control anything any more!"
Peach froze and everyone ran into her from behind. "What did you say?!"
In Dark Land Tuesdays were unfavorable and inconvenient for even the locals as storms wiped out visibility even in the nicer areas like Neo Bowser City. Bowser Castle wasn't there however, it was just in World 8 and it wasn't Tuesday but instead a certain magikoopa's shopping day, a day that could be any day of the week she managed to sneak the keys away from Kamek. An enormous dust cloud shot into the sky after an aircraft crash landed behind the castle with a rumble felt for miles. Most of the koopalings were in the castle's spacious den when it happened goofing off. Larry yanked off his headphones again and his light blue eyes scanned the room for the most likely culprit.
"Sis! That's too much bass from the stereo. I felt like the whole freaking ground was like, shaking, which would usually be cool but not with your trashy-"
Wendy flung an extra controller at him without taking her attention off the dating sim she played on the television. "Not me! It was probably Morton's horrible ring tone from DJ Drybone5 or somebody."
"I believe you are false, wrong, inaccurate as I changed it to this!" Morton played the new tune that had an even more grating beat.
Lemmy sat in the corner building an impressive doll sized house of multicolored building blocks. He stopped and sniffed the air. "Anyone smell smoke?"
Iggy's head snap up from the green transparent gameboy it was buried in. "My radioactive microwave downstairs!... Wait no that blew up last week... Oh that reminds me, there's still a ton of extra sodas stacked up in the basement so I got bored and you should see the stack formations I've made with them like a convex icosahedron!"
"Shut up before I punch you," Roy mumbled from the couch, leaning all the way back lazily with his arms folded.
"Attention! Mandatory meeting in the back yard!" Ludwig group texted everyone, resulting in a half dozen phones going off at once. There was some of everything, techno songs, rap songs, trap songs, and a simple bell because one of them were basic..
Larry silenced his first. "Crap, I think we all gotta do what it says or Luddy will get us triple grounded." The other Koopalings dismissed Larry and went back to what they were doing except his sister.
Wendy paused the game and rolled her eyes. "Luddy IS a tattle tell. Listen to little runt just this once."
"Thanks sis!… Hey!" Larry retorted as everyone dragged their feet out the room and left him behind. "And wait for meeeeee!"
Koopa Airships were nearly indestructible but the Earth not so much. In the barren backyard typically used for mass enemy formation training, the family's one really good airship was half way sunk into the ground creating a crater. Tall red dirt mounds were littered everywhere and cracks were forming in the dry desert like soil. Despite all of that, Kammy Koopa walked away from it like nothing had happened, arms full of shopping bags.
"Dearies, I got something for yoooooou!" Kammy sang, heading towards the koopalings.
Everyone couldn't help but to cheer. Their father and Kamek rarely got them gifts but Kammy on the other hand? Of course they were frequently odd gifts but something nonetheless. Meanwhile a particularly Ludwig sized dirt mound started to jiggle. It had been there all along unoticed. Some bloodshot eyes appeared from it, next a red hot face emerged, then the rest of the body, fists balled and shaking.
"What in Eldstar's name is wrong with you crazy woman?!" Ludwig screamed, making everyone silent.
Kammy's little head poke around the stacks of shopping bags. "You know how I have lil problem reaching the break pedal, ee hee hee! Take this and chill out, boy!" She tossed a yellow Banana Bird Republic bag full of hair spray his way.
"I'm totes jealous," Wendy muttered, giving Ludwig the stink eye.
"But you're bald... Ouch you little-" Larry was jabbed by his sister.
"Focus! Everyone focus!" Ludwig snap his fingers. "Time?"
Lemmy checked his artsy 'wrist watch'. "There's been exactly zero minutes and no seconds since we've been standing here."
"Lemmy, your watch is drawn on your wrist with crayon. Hey, I should invent a watch that can freeze time like yours!" Iggy said, rubbing his hands together as he got unfortunate ideas.
Ludwig put snobbishness aside and resorted to checking his phone for the time then craned his neck back, facing the sky as he bellowed, "Curses! We are massively delayed. Blast it!" He dashed inside the airship so fast Kammy spun in place and flung the rest of the bags. Makeup, a new broom, granny clothes, old people knickknacks, as seen on tv products, and flat walking shoes flew everywhere. Ludwig ran right back out, using the black blazer he wore to cover his mouth from dust. "Good *cough* news."
"I can go back to bed, snooze, slumber?" Morton asked.
Ludwig called someone shockingly to the family since the commander had no friends, girlfriend, or social life. "Hello, underling?... It's Prince Ludwig to you, not 'bro'!...I accept that apology now listen, Bowser is in the city so keep it that way while we handle this set back... Yes you can. I know of your escapades in this castle..."
"Underling?" Iggy mused, the first to dare speak up. "Oh that guy! What about our other dudes, Sam and Slam with the delivery trucks this morning? I bet they quit early arguing over something like always, hehe!"
Ludwig hung up. "What about them? For now we need to excavate our means of transport!"
Wendy scoffed with her nose aimed high. "Don't we have like, soldiers for this?"
"But work is fun," Lemmy said.
"No one listen to Lemmy!" Iggy waved his arms around. "I can't mess up my video-game playing hands!"
"ENOUGH! Here's a wise lesson I was taught: Physical training builds character." Ludwig dropped a pile of shovels at their feet with a smirk. "No one reenters the castle until then!"
Everyone scrambled to dig up their airship, including Larry who grumbled the entire time. Why did he have to be forced to take part in another one of Ludwig's schemes? He didn't even want to be a villain when he got out of high school...
Mitch's Lexus, a black sedan he'd owned for five years now and spotless, came to a stop at Starman Lane's many red lights. He had in his lap a rolled up magazine from the movie star K. Kool Koopa he was to interview later and many other appointments so he needed to hurry back and look presentable. The glove compartment was unsuccessfully ravaged for more facial tissues and aspirin for his searing headache. He hoped he could make it to the press before he stained his suit with the nose bleed he got from successfully deterring that creep at the stadium away from Kylie Koopa. The light changed green so he mashed that pedal. Traffic was thin expect for a bus on the opposite side farther down.
Ding ding ding.
That noise. It was that creep again! His attention darted back to the road in time to see a speeding mushroom bus veering into his lane head on and there was nowhere to go. Before he had time to dread even, the vehicles collided and his car crumpled, the frame warping and compressing, and tiny shards of glass from the windshield spraying him. The driver of the public transportation vehicle never let go of the gas, instead limp and deceased before the crash ever happened. The ghost bus kept rolling down the street while the Lexus was slung into an empty grass field off the road. Only then did the airbag deploy with a weak sounding poof. Mitch was conscious just enough to realize that he could neither move nor scream...
The first person to notice the horrific accident was koopa on an afternoon jog. Around this block he always exercised and the usual excitement never toppled bad street performers dizzy dancing. Jogging in place he started to call emergency services when he was whacked with a tennis racket, a green Bowser racket a number of people might have caught a glimpse of at a certain tennis game. Knocked out the fitness junkie fell at the feet of a dark looming figure with no feet at all. Surveying the accident scene the attacker's eyes squint slightly due to astigmatism while their lips curled upwards in satisfaction.
"That'll teach you to follow me around, bro," the person softly said into Mitch's driver window. Then they vanished like the boo they were…
Mario slammed his hands down at Nass's desk making the entire hospital lobby get silent. A dozen eyes were now on him and crew and hoping to use that to his favor he became loud and dramatic. "We know others are sick like our friends! We know you've changed leaderships! You're going to tell us what's going on!"
Nass stared blankly before shooting up form her chair. "Don't complain to me!" she belted. "Talk to Doctor Professor for crying out loud!" She pressed a button over and over but no one was responding.
"Are these guests giving you problems?" asked the whomp doctor in passing to Nass T.
"You ain't seen problems yet!" Bowser pushed open the doors and stomped inside to make many gasp.
"This is getting out of control.." Peach held her temple. If only she could just vanish away from this madness. Boo could actually do that, but they were petrified beyond movement.
"Why are you up here Terrace? But since you are, please escort these people out!" Nass ordered.
Dr. Terrace shrugged. "Right now? With my knees? Ha! Oh, and the health inspectors are right about.."
Someone else burst through the doors, strong enough to knock Bowser out of the way. "Dis is Jimmy M. of the Mushroom Kingdom Disease Control Unit!" announced the short monty mole grandly. He wore a bright yellow hazmat like plastic suit and he scurried to the front desk very quickly to dig into their business.
"Who sent you here?!" the head nurse gasp as James dug into all of her files and flung them high in the air.
The mole whistled loudly, finding what he wanted. "Dis is it, boys!"
This prompted three others to rush in against the traffic of the lobby guests they'd scared away, a mega goomba, a koopa paratroopa, and a wiggler. They split up and went down all of the halls banging on doors and disturbing the peace. Every nurse and patient that could scrambled out the doors during the emergency. Mario got separated from Peach first then he lost Luigi then Yoshi when the wave of the evacuating people finally swallowed him and the world went from black to blue because he was staring at the partially cloudy sky in the parking lot outside the hospital where the crowd left him. Mario leaned up. Everyone else was displaced in the yard and a huge truck with 'MKDCU' was parked in front of the entrance. On autopilot he ran that way just in time to catch those health inspectors again, already wheeling patients out. There was a yoshi, a koopa, then a toad- Toad Toad and a girl- Daisy!
"Wait!" Mario shouted but the snifit driving the truck slam on the gas. The car sped off into the distance with his friends. He watched it down the road in disbelief.
"Uh, plumber… We gotta find our tennis rivals!"It almost seemed like Bowser seemed to almost say more but Mario had no time to read into that.
"You think?!" Mario faced his rival. Bowser just shrugged.
Six people regrouped at Club 64, a landmark diner most Toad Town residence knew well for his homely atmosphere. It especially made it stand out to sleeker and larger but less cozy competitors, like Club Gamecube across the street. Mario ordered a piece of toast for everyone at the round table in the front. The mood was predictably sour, zapping most appetite anyway. The spinning ceiling fans purred on the hot day and that was mostly the only sound heard, Bowser being there scaring everyone else out. Yoshi's attention remained on the bulky old television screens usually set to closed caption only, but there was no report of the hospital incident in the mix of mundane miscellaneous news and toad fashions...
"Yoshi, what do you think?" Mario asked him.
Yoshi slid away his juice. "Too early to say."
"It ain't that complicated. I know exactly who did it," Bowser explained all important like.
"You do?" Peach said skeptically.
"Themselves, or Toad and Daisy I mean. Yep. Afraid to face me in my prime they force a reschedule. Do ya read flower chick's profile? It's all over Daisy's Facebook wall that she didn't want to play today."
"So they stage their own fall out? That's ridiculous. Bowser, if you're not going to help leave!" Luigi pointed out the door, glaring at Bowser who wore a little smirk but didn't move in his silent dare. Luigi's eyes then wandered to Mario subconsciously for support. Mario seemed to shrink a little under that gaze, almost unheard of the younger brother thought. Then again Mario was always awkward for no reason when Bowser was in company but they weren't fighting. What was typical of Mario however was the ability to mask over that vulnerability in an instant.
"Bowser. We don't need you anymore. Get out," Mario told Bowser plainly.
Some annoyance or anger, no one was sure, flashed over Bowser before he stood up abruptly. "Smell ya later then, losers." He stomped out, letting the chair fall over.
Peach wrinkled her nose while Bowser was leaving. "Thank the stars.." She stood up and straightened out her clothes. "I am not abandoning this situation or anything but I should return to the castle briefly, assuming I have not been 'voted out' there also," she said with hints of bitterness at the end.
Mario's arm reached for hers. "I'll escort you. The rest of you head back to the hospital for clues." He escaped with her before Luigi could question anything else.
Kylie Koopa arrived back at the Mushroom Press well past lunch and returned to her desk, dropping her notebook flat with a plop. Immediately something hit her, she spun around to realize that Mitch was missing from his cubical. He rarely left even for his lunch, even more alarming she found when his lunch box was still under his table with sandwiches in it.
Kylie came up to the front desk. "Jessie, have ya heard from that ol' Mitch since lunch? Just curious."
The desk lady shook her head so Kylie returned to her space. She had to work with Luigi's eyewitness account and the two cans Toad and Daisy might have drank before the game. She knew from past work that Fungus Up was hardly sold anymore but a quick search on the Toad Town message boards had a post marked around seven that morning saying that a stand of Fungus Up cans appeared in the park as a sort of promotion. It was up for grabs. What did her old reports say on that company? Some of Kylie's files were purged a few years ago in the process of relocating but maybe Mitch still had them. -If he was still around…
Feeling she was in a bind, she scraped up what she could. One message purportedly stated that a truck dropped them off and had much more in the back but the two drivers began discussing some sort of tabletop game. Next they were speedily driving off leaving only one bunch. Another said that someone added the promotional material later. Neither had images to back anything up, assuming it even transpired as they claimed. Kylie would contact Luigi for an update even if she had nothing definitive to prove. Her office phone rung for a moment while someone entered the press for a paper.
"Right here, sir," Kylie heard Jesse say a distance away. She idly watched the noki in a Hawaiian shirt and black sunglasses scan the newspaper nearly as tall as him and nod his head.
"Didn't see your stories?"
The noki rolled it up under his arm and handed over the coins. "No, merci." Kylie eyed him out the door as he approached an Aston Mushroom car, a super expensive 'thang' as she'd put it, at a parking meter. Had to be a tourist, she thought.
To be continued:
Author note: Yeah a little short, but..
Created: 5/18/19 -5/26, 5/31, 6/1, 6/2, 6/3, 6/4, 6/10, 6/13
More edits: 6/20/19, 7/1, 7/9, 7/17.