Mario and Bowser: Frenemies Forever 2 (Redux)
No courage, nerves, or pronouns (Chapter 7)
Disclaimer: Mario=Nintendo Me=still not much
Author note: Newly edited.
Mario tossed aside his wrench. It landed with a soft sounding clink on tiled floors marred with his boot prints. Water mostly drained, he leaned away from underneath the cabinets.
"Great job saving us from killing our selves, you know like usual," said the blue toad observing closely the work. Buckenberry semi-famous for volunteering for 'New Super Mario Bros' often breathed down his neck unless Luigi was around to shoo him away.
Mario leaned on top the cabinet, surveying the patch job one more time. "What do you want, Cool Blue?"
"Luigi called the castle. Mr. Toad and Princess Daisy have the Mushroom Flu. Mario? Mario, wait!"
Mario tumbled out of the kitchen. He quickly tore the castle up looking for Peach but only found her toads cleaning up damp floors and furniture. "Mr. Toadsworth, have you seen the princess?" he demanded, spotting the old mushroom gazing out the open front doors.
Toadsworth tapped his cane with a downward face. "I tried prevent her rash endeavors, Master Mario. She wished to revisit that hospital of doom and I would have accompanied her but dear me, I am too traumatized by that bus accident that happened to deathly near here. The roads and no longer safe!"
Mario checked outside with mixture of irritation and concern. "You don't have to worry about that because she didn't even take her car.." Peach's pink Birthday Girl kart was untouched in the castle lot. He slapped his forehead and sprinted away from the castle with no further explanation given.
Toadsworth watched and waited and waited some more, eyelids drooping lower. He then asked some one else to guard the door while he left to prepare hot tea for concentration. Despite his request no one did, the typical clemency becoming common in the castle as the princess became less and less authoritarian with age. But that was a debate for later. Soon someone rapped on the door which alerted the toads in expectation of the pizza guy or a gift from one of the princess's admirers that they'd get to dig into first. Or something from Amazon. A teenaged toad swung open the door.
"Hey. What's up?" The dark boo attempted it seemed to smile reassuringly, yet his jagged teeth and devious squint directed at the castle's address posted up in a bold but regal font hinted otherwise. There wasn't an obvious mode of transportation he'd arrived via.
"OOOOO-k.. Well you don't have pizza or a Prime shipment so bye?.." Thomas attempted to shut the door, but the visitor held it open with sudden strength.
"Listen to this, bro. I got a rare thing." The boo presented in his other hand a can of soda that was dented but unopened, Fungus Up.
"Uhhhh whatever..." Thomas groaned, letting him in flippantly.
"Thanks bro. Peach collects memorabilia doesn't she? And Mario's here too right?" The dark boo brushed past him into lobby, his expression flattening when his gaze raised at the ceiling. He clicked his tongue. "...They ain't here."
"Excuse me, who are you?" Toadette appeared in the dark boo's way when he lowered his head. She'd came from upstairs.
"He collects stuff… maybe..." Thomas shrugged as their visitor began to slip out the castle.
"Stop that guy! He's totally suspicious!" Toadette yelled like a siren.
Buckenberry bust from a room hurled himself towards the stranger. In a ball both tumbled out the door and flat onto the stone moat. The boo then punched the blue toad in the face before knocking him off.
"Piss off," the boo spat, dragging himself up.
Buckenberry ignored his busted lip and charged again. The boo 'pointed' at him and something undetectable by their senses struck the blue toad. His world spun like a vortex, making him launch himself over the railing to splash into the clear water below. Seeing their toughest toad go down roused the onlookers. Peach's toads weren't obsequious, or the best at jumping in platform games, or the best at cleaning, but they cared about each other and in numbers their confidence grew exponentially. Toadette, Thomas, a toad who ran the castle's visitor podium, Yellow Toad known also as Ala-Gold, the gardener with a hoe, a cook with a metal pan, and many more poured from the doors like scurrying insects. The dark boo dragged a bike hidden off the side with him, attempting to crank it up when he realized someone was helping him roll it. He whipped around to find Alagold.
"Sweeet, ride brah! What's your name?" he asked innocently.
"Bro?!" Zoo gasped.
"Your name is 'Brah'?" Alagold's eye began to twitch as he detected an item, his special gift he used a lot in NSMB. He reached into a compartment on the bike and took out a Dark Land identification. "No, your name is Z-"
"Gimme that back!" 'Z' yelled in his face.
He raised an arm again and sent an intangible biology tampering wave slicing through Alagold. The yellow toad seized up and stiffly collapsed on the road while Z escaped, on edge anew when Thomas's hurled spear, bestowed to him as technically the front door guard, nearly impaled him. Then the others threw rocks that pelted the dark boo relentlessly. His motorbike refused to start up as the toads slowly became a monstrous regiment close to overtaking Z. The entire castle was involved in chasing him off. He dropped his motorbike all together and, nerves getting the best of the young boo, did something drastic.
Trying to ignore the ruckus from whatever was going outside, the restless young ones these days!- Toadsworth blew over the hot ceramic cup of Herb Tea. He relaxed in a recliner up stairs in his room, his sanctuary. Before taking the first sip, a violent rumble shook the cup out of his hand and tea all over his lap. He clinched his teeth as his shelves rattled heavy books to the floor. He sprung up and to a window. Outside was only a pure black abyss Toadsworth peered into. A vision was forced upon him, that of a single five pointed object hanging above barren flattened land and the Princess' Castle in ruins. He screamed until he felt his lungs giving out.
Boo heard their name being called when Luigi and Yoshi poked their heads into Club Gamecube, Club 64's competitor established in 2001. Boo wanted to respond but remained frozen. They slapped themselves in the forehead again. "Why can't you do anything right, Boo? Why?" When not pathetically tagging along with someone more important all they had was a lame part time job at a diner in Forever Forest, a Youtube channel no one watched but their mother, no courage, nerves, or pronouns. Not all of that was bad but they were fully convinced they were useless.
"Give a round of applause for Dolphin!" the manager said on stage, introducing a comedian. The lights went dim as some people were loudly entering the restaurant.
"I just want a Chuckola Cola, the Japanese version. Mom never let me do this."
"I ain't her am I, so you'll get it! Waiter?! We need service!"
Boo peered over a banister that separated the dining area from the front to see Bowser and a toad girl at the takeout desk. Emery received her beverage after Bowser flashed his ID card for her and they left. Two minutes later, tugged along into action by some part of themselves unknown, Boo was zipping between alleys following the slow but steady Clown Car in the air. Boo weaved through more people on sidewalks and narrowly avoided traffic on streets.
In the air, Emery belched. "Awesome! Uh, what to do with-"
"Toss the bottle over the side. It ain't littering, it's a custom where I'm from."
Boo then watched as something glistening in the sky fell over the edge and whacked them in their forehead. The little boo collapsed in the middle of Toad Town park.
A silver Aston Mushroom continued its steady pace towards Peach's Castle, each mile tense for the noki driver within. Would the koopa passenger stop staring at him? If Kylie Koopa made the mistake of leaning over him the right way, easily due to his small height, she might catch a glimpse of what was behind his sunglasses and he couldn't have that.
"Can you read this?" he asked, handing her Mitch's file to direct her attention away.
Kylie opened it up in her lap. "An old case study on ancient artifacts. You interested in something specific?"
"Something capable of a 'chime'?"
"That narrows it down… Off topic but can I ask you something?"
"I know species names are a hit these days but how did you end up being called Jelectro when you're a noki?"
Before he could answer he slammed the breaks a few feet before displaced toads on the road. Papers flew all over the car. Just across the bridge of Royal Raceway, Peach's Castle was suspended a few hundred meters in the sky on top a pure black and flatly textured disc. Faintly yellow hologram like musical notes drizzled underneath like a rain shower. They collectively jumped when someone banged driver's window. It was Buckenberry still soggy and wet. Jelectro rolled it down.
"Finally someone drives down this road! Get Mario's help!"
Kylie Koopa jumped out of the car. "What the crap?! Where's the princess?"
"She's not in," Toadette explained quietly, shock very evident on her and others stranded about.
"Well, Mr. Toadsworth was inside when that freak with the bell did this. He screwed up Gold too!" Buckenberry warned, referring to someone a little farther back laying face down in the grass.
Jelectro investigated the yellow toad as his special training took over. He lifted a closed eyelid to discover Alagold's rolled back and clouded over irises. He bolted back to his drivers seat, hyperventilating as a thought dawned. The mystery thug he was after was like Mitch, and thus like himself! This was becoming his worse nightmare.
"Bond! Or Jelectro, whatever you call yourself! Check this out!"
He craned his neck her way but remained planted in the car. Kylie was snapping pictures of an old motorbike. "You know something? I've saw this bike parked at the Mushroom Press this morning. Yeah I'm sure it was. Someone give me the straight dope on this guy."
"A thug. A dark boo. A young adult. Some scars. Squinted all the time. 'Z'," the toads all answered.
Kylie let the camera dangle freely around her neck. "...What was that last one again?"
Peach's shoes or high heels, dry ones that was, clacked rapidly as she stomp down the sidewalk, arms swinging in rhythm. She'd reached her limit of secrets, lies, plumbers, and koopas who constantly inserted themselves into her life despite a so-called Peace Pact between kingdoms. She spotted the Koopa copter hovering her way and quickened her pace when something else approached, a taxi speeding down the street. Peach instinctively dove into the nearest dark alley as the cab pulled over to the side of the road to let someone jump out back seat.
"Princess, don't you know how dangerous that was with weirdos and such after you? Just look at that! At least have your cellphone on," lectured Mario.
Peach stepped out of the alley, grimy and dress splattered with dirt. "I knew what I was doing, my dear Mario," she responded icily. Both turned their heads at the rabid toad girl holding a lit bob-omb running their way.
"Diiiiiie princess!" screamed the girl.
Mario stared at her vacantly before letting his foot out so that she tripped over his toes and completely overshot Peach. The girl rolled on the sidewalk and the bomb even farther away in front of a building.
"That was weird."
"Yeah, for once you're right plumber boy," growled Bowser from the lowering Koopa Clown copter. "Anyway, I spotted Peach wandering around but then my new mook had to mess it up.."
"Sorry Bowser..." Emery mumbled from the pavement. The bomb went off and shattered some windows of the post office.
"Is everyone alright?!" wailed Parakarry, bursting out those doors. He saw Emery on the ground and sighed in relief. "Stop trying to be a terrorist. You aren't good at it," he remarked bluntly.
"You know this traitor?" Peach asked.
Mario's ex partner nodded. "She works at the hospital and is always posting these Bowser propaganda fliers in the mail. I still send them out of course, a postman can't be biased. See y'all!" Smiling, he returned to the post office.
"How ridiculous that a Toad Town citizen work with Bowser," Mario said with some disgust.
"It's a free kingdom, mustache. Lay off! Besides you partner with me, how's that different?"
Emery peeled her face up from the asphalt. "Ouch. Clearly I'm not wasted like I thought cause I totally felt that. Are we still going to the clinic?"
Mario snapped his fingers. "That's perfect, 'little traitor girl'!"
"I have a name!"
"Whatever. That's where we need to go for real results, not that other hospital," Mario said. "And I know that's where you were going Peach." She didn't respond to that vexingly.
Bowser scoffed. "So what? You idiots hitch a ride with me? Yeah right!" he howled. He lowered his head and Mario was giving him that look again.
"They have the Mushroom Flu."
A jolt went through Bowser's system. "...Get in. NOW!"
Everyone squeezed in his koopa copter including Peach, uncomfortable so close to Bowser and his deranged sidekick. Well, as long as she was even closer to Mario it could be tolerable. She didn't want to admit it but she did need him and she knew it was mutual no matter how many times they annoyed each other. Soaring a short distance over the villa, anyone on the ground scattered like ants at the sight of the koopa aircraft.
"Alright now everyone except fangirl get out quick! Go go!" Bowser forced Mario and Peach out after landing before the clinic. "Watch the clown car."
"Yes sir!" Emery saluted.
The intern inside screamed when they came in, making her chair flip. "B-Bowser?! Birdley, get him!"
A white bird perched on a hanging cage swooped down at Bowser, smacking in his face and making a poof of feathers explode from impact.
"Bowser's with us," Peach explained reluctantly. "Doctor please?"
The intern pointed backwards. She went through the double doors and located her inexplicably green skinned friends right away on the cots.
Dr. Toadley spun away from the computer. "Quiz time. Is Mushroom Flu a localized virus? Yes it is."
Peach tore her gaze away. "Localized? From where?"
Bowser barged in, feathers stuck to him everywhere and still spitting some out. "Just great. I swallowed one… Anyway they can't have the Mushroom Flu 'cause people only get that in Dark Land! Lots of us are allergic to mushrooms there."
Mario walked in last. "Didn't you both confirm Doctor Professor worked in Dark Land? He would have known this."
"Yeah he should have known I guess." Bowser's arms crossed and his mind drifted somewhere he didn't want.
Peach yanked Mario her way in a sudden fit. "Mario? I knew that advanced testing from that horrible 'doctor' was just an excuse to waste our precious time!"
"I know that too! How did they deal with this in Dark Land, Bowser?"
Bowser glared back at the plumber. "Your clone Dr. Mario dealt with it way back. DO I LOOK LIKE A DOCTOR?! But that Doctor Professor Koopa was working in my castle at the time so he should of known what was going since this morning if this purple lunatic right here could figure it out in minutes! Stop looking at me like that! Your hospital is what's messed up right now so shut it down!"
The room got silent, Mario reflected a lot of things he'd done all day, granted for only a few seconds, but enough to know it was time to try something new. Or old. "Alright. Let's forget our history for a moment."
Bowser's eyebrows rose a little. "..What? That's a heck of a lot to forget, mustache."
Mario held out his hand with an exasperated but wryly sigh. "Shut up and let's fix this together already."
The princess rolled her eyes. "Mario."
Bowser paused before squeezing Mario's hand hard. "Fine. We're both at a loss here anyway. After all, it's all about the tennis game and the gold medal! Who cares about these other losers?"
"Uh, well actually-"
"-Shuddup. Doc? What else you got to tell us?"
Toadley spun the computer monitor towards them with 1s and 0s flying in space. Very impressive. Of course Dr. Toadley jiggled the mouse and what was actually the screensaver faded away, revealing a plain webpage of patient entry forms Toadley procured by digging through insecure servers of a certain mushroomy eastern hospital.
"What was the last beverage consumed? A soda, Fungus Up."
Mario nodded. "Kylie Koopa told Luigi that she found some cans outside Toad and Daisy's locker rooms." His head tilted slightly lower. "Eh, guess I shouldn't of been so harsh with him over hiring her.."
"Will I contact the Special World Hospital for advice? Yes I will." The toad doctor whistled and Birdley entered the backroom on cue.
Bowser dived flat to the floor, covering his head. "Keep that winged psycho away from me!"
Mario and Peach shuddered. The International Medical University of Special World was a remote and specialized research facility located beyond Star Road as the name suggested. Rumor had it that they took test subjects only for them to never see the light of day again. Plus they were nerds... Peach approved hesitantly then decided to make use of her cellphone for once for her own revenge on the hospital with the audacity to oust her. She was a princess after all.
Luigi scanned his surroundings one last time in the search for his boo pal. He should not have forgotten that he himself wasn't someone willing to go on Mario's adventures initially. The acceptance of such great responsibility, the get to the point where risking his life was a mundane sometimes 'fun' activity, came very gradually. An average person, someone like boo wouldn't grasp that in a day. He and Yoshi traversed the Toad Town sidewalks in growing desperation. Things were so normal all around, bright evening sky, warm weather, and pedestrians on the streets. It made their problems seem so small and isolated in the grand scheme.
"I'm sorry." Yoshi pat him on the back. "Earlier, back when we first infiltrated that twisted hospital I spoke to Boo for a moment. I can tell he or she has, well, some issues."
"And I made them worse."
"Don't get too bent out of shape. Some people keep their issues to themselves and if they do, how can you know?"
Luigi thought he detected traces of inward frustration from Yoshi then. They crossed through the large park as a shortcut. Denizens were sun bathing in the open spots in-between shade trees. Luigi and Yoshi tiptoed around them, including a little boo near an empty glass bottle.
Luigi dove down and shook the boo. "Buddy! It's Luigi wake up!"
Boo's eyes fluttered open while rubbing the red bruise on their head. "...Where am I?"
Luigi helped them up. "Park. It's my fault. If this is too intense for you we'll get you home."
Boo scanned the plumber up and down curiously. "But why would I want to go home? By the way, it's 'Booigi the second'."
Yoshi got a closer look at the knot then suspiciously picked up the glass Chuckola Cola bottle, dreading what he was about to ask. "..That head injury and- You weren't drinking were you?"
"No. I was tracking Bowser and.." Booigi let their words settle in the air. "...I don't remember, but the heck does it matter? Let's kick Bowser's butt! That's what we're here for!"
Luigi was stunned all over. "Boo, what are you saying? We-"
"Stop talking. I hear something." Booigi leered at a more wooded area. Trees and foliage rustled as a tired looking dark boo approached...
...Kylie rushed back inside the press where many had clocked out for home by now, darting to the amateur side and the space of Susie Que. She dug in their desk but nothing was left, only a small decorative painting. It had a red backdrop that spiraled to a black splotch in the middle, edgily titled 'I'm a mess' by artist 'Drew'. The computer had beneath its screen saver an internet browser left on a flash games website, like the person goofed off all morning.
Kylie knocked on the door of Steve's office. "Did Susie ever return?" A typewriter the bullet bill used clacked away, audible through the closed door.
"Time clock says no," he grunted back.
Kylie spun back around as Jelectro was walking in. "You contact Mario with our office phone. His number is posted on the board. I gotta check something."
Jelectro found the office phone tucked away in a semi-isolated spot where a five gallon water dispenser was. The beige note tacked to the cork board said 'Call this for Mario, or this' with two numbers written. He chose the first and it picked up right away.
"HELLO?" A pure black and particle like appendage jetted out from the speaker and wrapped tightly around Jelectro's neck.
"Merde!" he squeaked as the phone slipped to the floor. No one around him had any reaction to the noisy struggle as if he was invisible. The creature knocked the noki back into the water dispenser again and again, toppling the stacks of paper cups and splashing the floor. He mustered all of his strength to pry it from his windpipe, growing feeble by the micro second. Out of options, he attacked the 'thing' mentally with his incredibly rusty telepathic prowess. With a low rumble the dark matter phased away from his pale palms, leaving everything normal except a giant puddle of water and a nose bleed. Someone frantically pulled the blue faced noki back to his feet.
"Are you alright?" Jessie propped him up and began to remove his sunglasses before his arms shot out and stopped her.
"Don't touch that- I mean, I passed out because where I come from.. we don't have conveniences such as this.." Jelectro shakily grabbed a paper cup and dispensed some water in it before taking a little sip. "Ahhh…"
"Canada, mon ami."
"No I mean you're bleeding- well, alright.."
He snatched a wad of facial tissues pressed quickly to his upper lip and glanced at the phone with malice. "Just allergies. Petit bâtard…." he muttered. After a second he chuckled at his own insult to the phone, that very phrase often directed at him growing up.. He scrutinized the bulletin note again and, surprise, that first number was actually labeled as Peach Castle's number while the second was Mario's cell phone. He called that.
"Hello? Why is the newspaper company calling right now?" Mario responded.
"Bonjour. I am an intern of a reporter and there was an incident at the princess's castle. Her servants are homeless now."
The line went silent before Mario exclaimed, "How did I miss all of these notifications from your toads, Peach?! Look at this!" Then Mario's line disconnected.
There was another curious detail then, the office phone had logs of call history to Mushroom Kingdom Hospital and exactly one return call back with a message left hours ago. Jelectro snooped into that, playing the record out with low volume.
*Beep* "This is Nass Toad, head nurse and secretary of Dr. Prof. Koopa, responding to Giant Land Hospital regarding our deal. Just calling off record to let you know that disguising your number as the Mushroom Press downtown to communicate has ruined up all of my data sheets and I don't appreciate having to redo them. Please contact us back with your REAL number. Thank you."*Beep*
"Bond, does it take five minutes to operate a phone?! Come over here!" Kylie beckoned him, buried in her computer research. "Twelve years ago in Donut Plains there was a 'Zoo Diddley', the son of a popular at the time juggler. Zoo rung a very special object one day in the middle of an act and something really bad went down. Mitch heard of the story back then and it left an impression for a personal reason. Anyway, I'm positive Susie is Zoo, but why pretend to be a reporter? His current vocation is listed as custodian." She spun her chair around and had a double take at how quickly the sorta attractive intern deteriorated. "Are you okay?"
Still holding the tissues to his face that were thoroughly bled through, Jelectro had the office phone under his arm. "Interesting."
"What? No, I'm asking you," she replied quizzically.
"Interesting because this morning right before you met 'Susie' for the first time a stand of the sodas appeared for 'free' in the park, a pallet's worth dropped off by a truck according to message boards. Who owns the largest truck company around? Koopas. If Susie is actually Zoo and has been confirmed to attack Peach's castle, could Zoo be associated with the koopas? Bowser's castle is a dump as we all know, but likely he still has non-combatant staff such as janitors. Would Bowser association not be a motivation to compromise the sodas that we know Toad and Daisy drank, and the hospital holding those sick from that very thing?"
"Alright Batman," she chuckled, "I was getting to all that. We better check Koopa now and- Uh, why did you yank our phone from the wall though?"
"Because it is the key to-" Jelectro felt a sting in this forehead and held it, trembling. "I have to go! Now!" He stepped away then stopped, facing Kylie again. "Actually, accompany me!"
She sprung up from her seat galvanized by the panic in his tone. "Sure? You have to leave the phone though. Company policy and those pidgits in corporate are scary!"
"More than this?" Jelectro suddenly raised a silenced pistol from his pocket, making anyone remaining inside scream and dive under tables and desks.
"I was kidding about the Batman thing, brother!" Kylie shot her arms up. Stuck between him and her own cubical there was no where to run. "Now what the heck do you really want from us?"
"Est-ce que je ne parle pas anglais? I thought not, so let's go!" Jelectro hissed while grimacing from stabbing pain.
To be continued!
Completed: 6/2/19, 6/3, 6/4, 6/5, 6/7, 6/10, 6/13, 6/14, 6/27
7/21, 7/30, 8/3, 8/4, 8/20, 8/29
6/17/20 (page breaks added)
Fixed. FOR. REAL: 5/22/21