Perchance to Dream
A Hammer Bro runs up to Bowser from the front lines.
"Any progess?" asks Bowser, a bit unamused.
"Well, we've held our lines, so that's good news," begins the Hammer Bro, "but so has our enemies. The princess has created a force field over her castle; not even the Bullet Bills have made a dent."
The Koopa King grows impatient. "Well, what about the town, then? That's not shielded, is it?"
The Hammer Bro begins to sweat. "Well, no, but there's this coating of paint all along the border of the town. When we step on it, it makes us sluggish enough to be overwhelmed in combat. Fortunately, the Paratroopas and Lakitus go over it easily…"
Bowser roars, "That's it?! We've been fighting for weeks, and all you guys have done is keep them busy?" Bowser stamps his foot a bit in frustration, and then stops to think. "Okay, then. How about you stop blasting the force field we can't break, and focus all your long-range weapons at the soldiers in the town. Got it?"
"Yes, Lord Bowser!" he salutes, then runs back to the front lines.
Bowser surveys the fight from his battle tower. About a third of Toad Town looks battered, but Peach's Castle stands magnificently over the chaos, in a look of defiance. "Once my construction team finishes the eighth tower, I think I'll step into the fray myself!"
That night, Mario and Luigi get ready for bed, in their apartment back in Brooklyn. Mario just gets out of the shower, while Luigi is already in bed, reading a book.
"Finished the last chapter yet?" says Mario as he dries himself off.
"Almost," says Luigi. "The prince of Sablé has almost beaten the villain using his frog and snake forms. It's an interesting read."
"I told you." Mario finishes putting on his striped pajamas and night cap, and tucks into bed. "Man, I wish I could transform into a frog, and go on an adventure to save a kingdom."
Luigi puts the book down on his nightstand. "Come on, bro. Aren't our lives already interesting enough? We live fairly wealthy lives, we have garnered nationwide attention, and we already battle crazy creatures from who knows where."
"Hey, a man can dream, can't he?" They both laugh. "Well, goodnight, Weegee."
Mario shuts off the lamp light between their beds, then they go straight to sleep. Unbeknownst to them, a sewer grate slowly slides open just outside their apartment building. Then Mouser slowly crawls out of the sewers. He looks up to the apartment window, catching the light from the brothers' bedroom window. He devilishly grins through the grit of his teeth.
"I'm back, and ready for my revenge, Mario! You won't even know what hit you, until it's too late!"
Princess Peach continues to watch from the balcony of her castle. Toadsworth stands at her side, nearly lost in thought from watching the battle. She is at a loss of words as she watches the battle continue in the streets of Toad Town. She can hear almost every word, battle cry, and wounded groan.
"I hate that my dear people are suffering, but defenses are holding up, and the Koopa Troop must have some extra tactics left at their disposal." Princess Peach reassures herself, "I don't what to play out my whole hand, unless it's absolutely necessary…wait, what's going on now?"
The soldiers of the Koopa Troop start falling back toward the borders of Toad Town.
"Press on, soldiers!" beckons General Toad at the front lines, "Don't let them take the ground their losing! Push them all the way back!"
Captain Toad hesitantly starts to join the charge of Toads, when General Toad stops him. "You stay back toward the castle," says the general, "You ain't a fighter yet, but you can defend yourself when push comes to shove." General Toad starts catching up to the front line. "Just don't run away this time!"
Captain Toad swallows hard. "Yes, sir."
The Toads chase the enemies within the town all the way toward the borders, where they seem to get very antsy about crossing the painted line again. Bill Blasters stop firing at the castle.
Princess Peach watches with great intent. "Maybe we'll be able to turn the tables already…"
Suddenly, everything drastically changed for the worst. All the Lakitus that were still dropping Spiny Eggs on the castle now drop them in front of the castle. All the Hammer Brothers stand behind the painted line, and throw their hammers onto the town. All the Bill Blasters now point at the town as well, and bombard it with Bullet Bills. With so many weapons raining down upon them, the Toads scatter and flee in sporadic circles. Some of the Goombas and Koopa Troopas who didn't cross back over the painted line take the opportunity to strike back at the scampering Toads. General Toad tries to keep his men in line, but to little avail.
Princess Peach grips the railing even harder. Her mind races through all the battle strategies she prepared for. Toadsworth looks over to her, worry etched across his face.
"This is slowly turning into the Mushroom Wars all over again," croaks the old Toad. "I know you wanted to hold back your best backup, but unless this situation is our most dire time, we have to take out our next best ace."
The princess sighs, and then grows stern. "I guess we must. I'll go get our best weapon." Princess Peach walks back into her room, while Toadsworth still watches the battle.
"Fated heroes," he prays to himself, "I hope you are as legend foretells."
Mouser sneaks up an outdoor fire escape until he reaches the same floor level as Mario's home. Then he slowly sidesteps from window to window until he reaches the right one.
General Toad grows more and more exhausted. He kicks a Koopa Troopa hiding in its shell, sending it spinning toward a few Goombas. Then a fiery roar reverberates through the air. Bowser has stepped up to the painted border. He launches occasional fire balls from his mouth, burning any Toads that are unfortunate to be in his war path.
"How I love the smell of roasted victory!" chuckles the Koopa King.
General Toad nearly flinches. "Damn it! I must be nearly wiped clean if I'm starting to hope for last-minute hero saving."
Mouser fiddles with the window pane, wedging a makeshift crowbar he brought with him from the sewers. With a free hand he wiggles the bottom half back and forth, quickly but quietly. Mario slightly turns and mutters in his sleep. Finally, a 'cha-thunk' sound goes off, and Mouser wipes back his sweat in relief.
Captain Toad is too paralyzed in fear to even think of moving. In front of him, the thick of battle slowly and surely inches its way toward him and the castle gates. From castle windows, female Toads and children occasionally peak out, hoping that the battle begins to turn toward their favor.
"Please, hero; please come!" he pleads in his head. "I promise I'll follow you every step of the way if you'll come to our rescue!"
Mouser carefully lifts the window open, slips in in a couple of delicate steps, then quietly closes the window behind him. Mario stirs a bit, but doesn't wake up at all. Mouser silently snickers under his breath. He tiptoes closer and closer to Mario's bedside.
Princess Peach looks through a few wooden boxes in her bedroom. Then she opens a long, thin one. She holds a hand over her chest and heaves a sigh of relief. "There you are!"
Mouser positions himself between the two beds. He looks over to the bed on the right and sees Luigi sleeping peacefully. "Hm, you are very annoying, but first…" he turns to the other bed on the left, and sees Mario sleeping, but slightly tossing and moaning. "Here you are!"
Then she frowns, and looks back toward the doorway to the balcony. She can still hear the blasts and screams of war outside her window. "Hero," she says softly to herself, "if you really exist and are out there…"
Mouser puts a hand behind his back, materializes a bomb, and then raises it above Mario. He can hardly contain his sneaky delight. "Sweet dreams, little man…"
"…and good riddance!"
Just as Mouser is about to drop the bomb, a colorful, hazy portal materializes directly above Mario's head. It almost has the appearance of a swirling water color painting, in a cloud form. Mouser squeaks and steps back, and nearly falls over. As the portal reaches its full size, almost three times as big as Mario's head, the sounds of people pleading for help get louder and louder from the portal. It gets so loud, that Mouser covers his big ears with his gloved hands and nearly drops the bomb.
"Ack! What in the…ow!" Mouser can barely take the cacophony of screams and clash of voices. "Shut up!" groans Mouser as he squeezes his eyes shut. Luigi turns over in his bed, unfazed. "Shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!" Mouser can't take the noises anymore! He throws the bomb blindly in the direction of the portal. Right as it makes contact with the color cloud, it explodes…
Everything goes suddenly quiet. Mouser takes his hands off his ears and opens his eyes. Instead of an explosive boom, or the voices from before, a low muffled hum reverberates from the still hovering portal. The portal itself, however, turns to white, and begins to ripple. Mario cringes, but still remains asleep. The humming gets deeper, and stronger. Mouser begins to feel the vibrations of the hum, like an electric bass. But then he also feels a strong tug on his whole body.
"What the…no, what is this?" Mouser gasps as he slowly stretches out. His head and hands elongate and gravitate toward the portal as it hums ever stronger. Mouser tries to scream, tries to move away, but is hopelessly and quietly spagettified. His whole body gets pulled into the white void of the portal. As soon as he disappears into the portal, it collapses into itself like a backward spiral, and then disappears out of the air. Luigi stirs half-awake.
"Hm, Mario?" mutters Luigi, half-opening one eye. But Mario, this time, is as still as a lifeless body, deep in sleep. Luigi turns his back and goes back to sleep.
It turns out, while Mario looks motionless and peaceful, his dreams are anything but. At first, Mario's dreamy conscious takes him through a white vortex. Voices calling for help get louder and louder as he is pulled through. Eventually, he can hear what they are saying clearly.
"Fated heroes, I hope you are as legend foretells" says one.
"Help! Please help!" says another, younger voice.
"This is it! We're doomed!"
"Please hero; please help! I promise I'll follow you every step of the way if you'll come to our rescue!"
"I cannot lose hope!"
"We need more help!"
"Hero," says a soft, female voice, "if you really are out there, please, help us!"
"The mist of consciousness parts," a voice suddenly says, breaking through the thick of other voices until only it is heard, "and a hero emerges."
Suddenly, a pure white light emerges at the end of the void. Mario flies right through it, and before him lies a slightly fazed setting. Fields of grass, rolling hills with black eyes, green pipes poking out of the ground, and clear blue skies. Mario rubs his eyes, hardly believing what he is seeing.
"I am-a dreaming, right?" Mario says to himself, and he is about to pinch his arm.
"Yes, you are," says the same voice he last heard earlier.
Mario looks around him. "Who are-a you? Where are-a you?"
"How would one describe me? I am...the voice within. I am your consciousness... I am above, and all around. A consciousness bound to you, as you are to me."
Mario stares blankly. "What are-a you talking about?"
"My apologies. You are unenlightened. But your hour of need is almost here."
"Wait, what for?"
"Look closer, harder, deeper…"
Mario looks onto the scene around him. In one spot, he can barely notice some strange fairies with pink hoods darting across the landscape. The scene changes like a ripple where the fairy things crossed by. Then the dampened sound of fireworks can be heard. Mario can see a large castle a little ahead of him. He looks at it with amazement.
"Wow, how magnificent it is…"
His amazement is quickly dashed when explosions blast between him and the castle. At this time, Mario notices a battered, smoldering town in front of him. The few buildings that do still stand look like they're shaped like mushrooms. The scene looks too hazy from where Mario is positioned, but he can hear screams of pain and pleads for help.
"What is going on?" Mario asks the voice, but no answer comes.
"Hello, sir! Glad you made it here" says a high-pitched voice right next to him. Mario quickly turns to his left, and he sees the same sort of hooded fairy he saw earlier.
"Oh…hello?" says Mario, a little confused.
"It's okay; this is your first time traveling through the subconscious, right?"
"Um…yes? So…what's going on?"
"Unfortunately, this is the beginning of a second war. Follow me." The fairy creature begins to fly toward the bombardment, but Mario hesitants. "Don't worry, it's just a dream. You won't be harmed, but we must hurry before you wake up."
Mario follows the fairy into the thick of battle. While everything is still hazy and dusty, he can still see the outlines of buildings and…mushroom-like people and turtle-like people. "This is-a crazy! This must be only a dream. Why show me these…people?"
"While this is a dream…" A mighty roar rumbles through the town, followed by a rain of fireballs. Mario and the fairy turn in fear toward the source of the sound. They can barely see the outline of an imposing, dragonish figure. "…this is really happening in another world."
"Another world?" gasps Mario. "You mean those exist?"
"As real as the ground you stand on…" they both notice they're floating like ghosts. "Well, if you were awake and you really were here, that is."
The fairy continues to lead Mario through the town. Mushroom people flee for their lives, as hammers, spiny spheres, and huge missile-like things fall upon them. "This is-a terrible for them. Is there anything they can do?"
The fairy and Mario reach the outside of the castle, and begin to float up to a balcony. "I don't know if they have enough in them to last long enough, but maybe you can."
"Me? How? And what can I do?"
"You and your brother have achieved some amazing feats, right?"
Flashing images of the Sidesteppers swarming the sewers and the Eggplant Men climbing around the construction site appear between Mario and the fairy.
"Yeah, we have but…"
Mario then notices a human step out onto the balcony. She is dressed in a pink, princess-like outfit, and looks very young. She looks out onto the battlefield. Her face gives off a mixture of determination, fear, and frustration.
"I…I don't know how I'll be able to make it to this place, let alone how to help you in a war."
"See that girl?" The fairy points at the princess. "She's only been a leader of these toadstools for a few months. And yet here she is, directly overseeing the war against an enemy she may not defeat. And if she keeps trying again and again, how about you?"
Mario looks over to the princess again, then at the chaos in the town below. "Alright, I promise I will help, if I happen to make it here."
"Well, strange things do tend to happen!" The two sink back down to ground level. The a Toad guarding the entrance to the castle screams in horror as a Bullet Bill falls near him. It explodes between him and Mario. Mario shields his eyes from the brightness of the blast. Then he hears a familiar voice.
"Mario? Mario, wake up!"
Mario stirs in his bed, and then perks his eyes wide open. Luigi stands right beside his bed, his hands shaking him. "Luigi, is that you?"
"Who else sleeps in the same room as you?" smirks Luigi.
Mario sits upright and rubs his eyes, "I had the strangest dream ever. You would not believe what I saw."
"Then I better not ask. Besides, we have a call for the Mario Brothers Plumbing. Come on and get up; it wouldn't be a brotherly job if only I answered the call for help."
Mario stares straight ahead as his brother exits the bedroom. "The call for help…" he mutters.
Princess Peach still stands on the balcony, but no longer hesitates. She pulls out a long, sniper-like gun. She looks into the mounted telescope, waiting for the crosshairs to align on her target. "Super Scope, don't fail me now," she prays. Then she holds the trigger to charge the shot, and fires at maximum power. A large ball of energy flies out of the Super Scope, and hits a couple of Bill Blasters. They immediately blow up to smithereens. Some loaded Bullet Bills fly out of their former cannons, and hit unsuspecting Koopa Troop soldiers. Princess Peach fist pumps the air. "Yes! Thank you, Jewelry Kingdom!" she cheers, and prepares to fire another shot.
The Toads realize the turn of events, with fewer Bullet Bills flying in their direction. They begin to jump up and down, cheering.
"No time to celebrate!" shouts General Toad, almost grinning himself. "Press on toward the enemy, now!" All the Toads in the town charge toward the Kooa Troop, pressing the soldiers back toward the border.
Bowser stands there, baffled by the losses of Bill Blasters, and the resurgence of confidence in his enemies. "So, the princess has an extra trick up her sleeve, does she?" He pounds his fists together, and then snaps his fingers. "Well, I've got a final trick of my own!" A Koopa Troopa hands Bowser the Blockra staff. Bowser steps right up to the border, where some Toads stand by fighting some Goombas. He grins as he points the staff toward those Toads. Mere seconds after those Toads realize the Koopa King is standing nearby, a beam fires out of the Blockra. The Toads scream in horror. But the screaming instantly stops when they're hit by the beam. All the other Toads gasp in shock. Even the princess looks over to where the beam hit.
"Oh no!" she gasps.
The Toads that were hit by the beam have been turned to stone!
Bowser lets out a triumphant laugh. "Bwahahaha! What will you do now, princess?"
Mouser lies face-down in the white void. "Ugh, where am I?" he groans.
"In the wild, wild dreams" croaks a deep voice above him.
Mouser looks up, and sees a giant, green frog decked out in a king's crown and robe. His jaw drops, but then he bolts up onto his feet and materializes a bomb.
"I am not your enemy," says the frog, "but perhaps if we join forces, we could accomplish a much bigger goal. One that the average creature would only dream of!"