Back to the Sewers
It is pandemonium in Toad Town. Many of the Toads flee from the borders. But Bowser zaps nearly half of them with his Blockra, turning them into helpless stone statues. The remaining Toads hide behind houses for cover from the hammers, including General Toad.
"Blasted tyrant," curses the general, "has to cheat his way to victory! Does anyone have any honor anymore?"
Princess Peach fired a charged shot from the Super Scope at the last Bill Blaster. By now, the Lakitus have taken notice, and rain down Spiny Eggs in front of the balcony to partly obscure her view of the battlefield. The Spiny Eggs land near the entrance to the castle and hatch into Spinies. Captain Toad does his best to swat the Spinies away with his blunt spear.
"Just don't jump, just don't jump, push them away, just don't jump…" Captain Toad stutters to himself repeatedly.
Peach tries to aim the Super Scope toward Bowser. But from the falling Spiny Eggs and the Koopa King moving about to hit Toads with his Blockra, she can't focus the crosshairs enough to get a good shot.
"Dang it!" she says through the grit of her teeth. She lowers the Super Scope and helplessly watches the battle below. More soldiers of the Koopa Troop begin to cross the painted line again, more bold in their attacks. Bowser still remains behind the line, but provides cover for his soldiers by zapping the block-tipped staff.
Toadsworth steps up next to Peach, checking on the battle. "I have a message for you from the Toad Council" he says.
"I'm listening," she replies.
"They believe that surrender is now a negotiable option…"
"No! That is non-negotiable! We must still hold our defenses…whatever we have left."
Just then, General Toad sneaks to a few other Toads huddled together behind a house. He whispers a few things to them, and they nod in response. They peek around the corner of the house. Peach notices the general gearing up for something. Then the Toads spring out of their hiding place!
A total of three Toads follow General Toad's lead as they make a run for Bowser. They stomp on a few Goombas, and knock over a couple with their spears. Bowser notices them coming, and gleefully zaps the Blockra in their direction. Fortunately, all four of them dart behind a house to get out of the way.
They continue their chance toward the Koopa King, kicking some Koopas tucked in their shells for cover. Bowser strikes the Blockra at them again. General Toad leaps out of the way. The other three Toads on the other hand…one of them gets hit, and turned to stone. The other two dart for cover, a bit rattled. The general waves his hands to the other two to stay calm. Bowser grits his teeth with pleasure. He beckons some Hammer Bros to corral them out. The general waves his hand down to keep the other two low for a while. The Hammer Bros get closer and closer. Then the general points at the two Toads, and yells aloud. The Hammer Bros turn to General Toad, readying their hammers. That's when the other two Toads leap out. They strike a couple of Hammer Bros from behind with their spears, which distracts the rest of the Hammer Bros. This allows the general to strike a few more Hammer Bros down.
"It's now or never! We must reach the Koopa King!" says General Toad.
"Bwahahaha" Bowser laughs and keeps zapping the Blockra.
General Toad and one of the other Toads dart toward Bowser. However, the other Toad is too busy tussling with a Hammer Bro. This leaves the poor Toad wide open for a blast from the Blockra, and gets turned to stone.
The two remaining Toads continue forth toward Bowser, dodging zap strikes from the Blockra and random hammers thrown in their path. As General Toad keeps his eyes on his objective, he just barely hears the other Toad trip over a fallen hammer. A zap flies by the general's right, a yelp from the Toad is heard, and then nothing more. He now knows that he is the only one left.
General Toad picks up speed. He dodges the beams shot his way from the Blockra. Bowser's grin slowly lessens, and he gets more serious with his aiming. The general quickly closes in the gap before Bowser can get a good shot from the Blockra. So the Koopa King resorts to using a stream of fire from his mouth. The general slides under the flames, just getting a few licks of fire on his body. He continues to slide right under Bowser, and stops right behind him. He grabs the Koopa King's tail and begins to pull…
"Hey!" bellows the Koopa King. He whips around so hard that General Toad flies across the floor, and skids a while on the grass. Slightly winded, the general spits out some dirt in his mouth, grits his teeth, and grips his spear in preparation. Bowser shoots some fire balls his way. The general barely rolls out of the way of one fireball before sprinting by the rest of the fireballs.
He gets closer and closer to the Koopa King. He raises his spear and yells, "For the princess! For the kingdom! For…"
But Bowser shoots the Blockra again at near point-blank range. General Toad doesn't even flinch when hit. He turns to stone, the ferocity in his face still there.
"For the new king!" Bowser finishes with a grin. Then he steps confidently over the painted line, regardless of the power-down handicap. His soldiers quickly follow suit, raiding the streets of Toad Town.
Captain Toad grows increasingly worried. Suddenly, the door to the castle swings wide open. A bunch of female Toads run out of the castle, almost trampling Captain Toad. The female Toads and few of their children run to their husbands and fathers. Some try to drag the surviving male Toads to safety, while others cling in despair to their petrified loved ones. A few try to protect their homes from looters. Bowser paces his walk to the castle entrance, taking his sweet time. He occasional zaps a Toad here or there with the Blockra if they come too close to him, but for the most part he is too satisfied to care.
Peach and Toadsworth stand on the balcony as still as the Toad statues. Toadsworth starts to shed tears, while the princess looks frustrated and scared at the same time.
"What shall we do now" says Toadsworth in a near nervous breakdown.
Peach's eyes remain fixed on Bowser. The Koopa King halts near the entrance to the castle. He raises a fist and taps the air, revealing the force field still in place. Even with the force field in the way, Captain Toad quivers in fear from being so up close to the Koopa King.
Bowser looks up to Princess Peach leaning over the balcony. "Nice force field you got here, princess!" he mocks, "Kind of like the barrier covering the Special Pipe right now. So, how about you bring down those barriers, and we can talk about the terms of your surrender?"
Peach stands firm. Her mind races. "I can't! I…I…"
Bowser turns to the scattered crowd of Toads. He points the Blockra toward one and fires. The female Toad he hits turns to stone. Peach and a bunch of other Toads flinch. Bowser does the same to another Toad. The other Toads flinch again.
Bowser looks back up to the princess, raising his arms. "I can do this all day, princess!" he says.
Princess Peach deeply sighs. After a minute of deep thoughts, she has her final answer. "The Mushroom Kingdom…surrenders."
Bowser grins. He turns around to face Toad Town. He stabs the Blockra staff beside him and breaths fire into the air. "He…ha ha…gwahahahahahahaha!"
Mario and Luigi are standing in a subway train, taking a ride back to their apartment. They are wearing their respective colored uniforms, having just left a customer. They hold their toolboxes in one hand, and hold on to a horizontal handle bar above them with the other hand. The seats and aisle are packed with New Yorkers.
"Hey bro," says Luigi, "if we don't have any more customers, how about we go to Tony's tonight?"
"Pizza again?" says Mario, "I was-a thinking more along the lines of…"
"Lasagna?" he finishes.
"Gee, how did you know?" he says cheekily.
"You ask for that every night."
"Not every night. I sometimes like pasta."
"You know, people are going to think we're a walking Italian stereotype one of these days."
"Well, we can't all be average Joe's!"
They both laugh, when the train suddenly jolts. The brakes screech hard, sending people flying forward, even the ones in their seats. Mario and Luigi lose their grip of the horizontal poles, and have to grab onto the vertical poles to keep themselves from flying into the front of the passenger car.
The train grinds to a halt between stations. Everyone gathers their bearings, making sure they didn't lose anything. The brothers check their hammers in their belt loops and adjust their colored caps.
"What…was that?" says Luigi.
Just then, the train cars shake back and forth a bit. Some faint screams are heard further down the back of the train.
"This better not be an earthquake" says Mario.
Then their train car gets hit hard on one side. Mario and the passengers hold tightly to any part of the poles they can reach. The car sways back and forth for a while, as if a team of people are taking turns pushing the car on either side. When the rattling stops, one of the car doors gets forced open, and in steps a Sidestepper. The crab creature is followed by a Shellcreeper, a couple of Fighter Flies, and a Gotcha Wrench.
"Even worse!" gasps Luigi.
Mario pulls out his golden hammer, and whacks the Gotcha Wrench outside the car before it even knows what hit it. But this gets the attention of the other stowaways. The Shellcreeper is the first to charge at Mario, but he responds with a quick hammer swing. This sends the turtle creature flying toward the Sidestepper, and they both careen out of the car. The Fighter Flies flinch for a second, which allows Luigi to take a whack at them from the side.
"Nice one, Weegee!" Mario starts to run out of the train car. "Everyone else stay in here! Luigi and I will YEOWWWW!" Just as Mario jumps out of the train, he fails to look where he leaps, and lands feet first on a spiky shelled creature.
"I got you, Mario! I'm coming!" Luigi goes to the edge of the car door, and looks at what injured his brother. It is a stubby legged yellow creature, with a small head, and a red shell littered with white coned spikes.
"You're a spiny feller, but you're going to have to go!" Luigi leaps just to the side of the Spiny and whacks it away. Then he helps Mario to his feet. Mario flinches a bit as he steps on his injured foot. "You feel alright?"
"I'll-a be fine. Good thing we wear thick shoes, or that would've-a, owww!" Mario quickly lifts his injured foot off the ground.
"Just hang on to me, bro. I'll bring us over to the nearest station." Unfortunately, a mob of Shellcreepers, Sidesteppers, Fighter Flies, Gotcha Wrenches, and Spinies swarm along the narrow space between the train and the wall of the subway tunnel. Luigi's eyebrows furrow. His eyes focus down the tunnel where the train was. He steps carefully toward where he wants to go. He barely pays any mind to the creatures, which in turn are more occupied with the train and the panicking passengers. Some enemies do try to attack the brothers. But Luigi swings his hammer and swats them away.
It isn't until they are a few yards from the back end of the train that the brothers are clear of enemies. Mario hobbles next to Luigi, holds on to his shoulder with his right arm, and uses his golden hammer as a bit of a crutch. Luigi assists Mario as they continue down the subway tunnel.
"I got you, bro" says Luigi, "just got a bit of a way left to go, and then we'll take a good look at that foot."
"You got it."
The Koopa Troop storms Peach's Castle now that the shields are put down by said princess. Some of the troops corral the Toads into one large room. Others are positioning the Toad statues around Toad Town. Princess Peach and Toadsworth are standing in her bedroom, expecting the worst. So Peach hands the Super Scope over to Toadsworth.
"Take this and hide with it. All may seem lost now that they have the castle, but things would be even worse if they ever got their hands on this."
Toadsworth nods. "I understand, princess."
"By the way," she continues, squatting down to his eye level, "about those 'heroes' that are supposed to come at our time of greatest need; is this it?"
"Now would be much appreciated," the old Toad puts a hand on Peach's shoulder, "but it probably all depends on what you do next. Your actions that follow will determine if we win, or lose, in the end. Be brave and good luck!" And Toadsworth runs around the corner to find a secret hiding place.
At the same time, the Koopa Troop make their way to the upper floors. Soon, they find Peach's room, surrounding the lone princess.
"Stay where you are!" says a Goomba, "Our king wants a word with you!"
Princess Peach just sighs and waits patiently for the inevitable. "Okay, stay calm; everything isn't too bad. There is still a chance we could turn this around. My heart power could possibly heal the stoned Toads and turn them back to normal. Then we could all make a surprise attack. Although that would require a lot of energy out of me. Our Toad Council is safely hidden in the basement of the castle. They could escape the Mushroom Kingdom when the time is right, and make a plea for an ally kingdom to counterattack. But that will probably take years. And we still have the possible extra heroes to back us up, if they come. Either way, all those plans will require some time."
Just then, Bowser steps into the room. His soldiers make a path for him to where the Princess stands. He grins, "Now, princess, how about those terms for your new king!"
She sweat-drops. "I guess I will have to stall him for that time!"
The brothers are at a subway station. Mario sits on a bench as Luigi finishes wrapping bandages around his right foot.
"You know," sighs Luigi, "if you keep rushing recklessly into trouble like that, you'll get yourself seriously hurt one of these days."
"I guess" says Mario, "but someone has to take the lead between the two of us."
Luigi cocks an eyebrow. "And what will the other do?"
"Makes sure to not precisely follow the leader."
"Hehe, anyway, what are we going to do about those creatures again? It seems like all our foes have joined forces, and then some."
Mario slowly gets back on his feet. He lifts his golden hammer and taps the head of it on his other hand. "Then we'll-a have to pair up for another round!"
"So you understand the responsibilities you'll have as the new ruler of the kingdom?" says Princess Peach.
"Of course!" boasts Bowser, "I am a king, am I not?"
"A king is an honorable title indeed. You must be proud to have earned it."
"Indeed I am!" he turns to a couple of Goombas with him in Peach's bedroom. "See! Someone who sees a talented and skilled leader when they see one!"
"Might I ask how you became a king?"
Bowser pauses for a split second, then turns to face Peach. "Well, since my, er, last ascendant passed away, I gained the throne and his title once I got old enough." The couple of Goombas snicker silently between themselves. "What about you, princess? Aren't you just old enough to become a queen?"
"There's more to a title than just age. If you gained the top title correctly, you had to be old enough, you had to have achievements worthy of the title, and you had to be eligible among your siblings."
"Hey! I did all that, too! I conquered multiple kingdoms before coming here, all for my kind under my leadership."
"And you have no brothers or sisters?"
"Heck, no! I better not!" Bowser crosses his arms. "Look, I came here to reclaim the Mushroom Kingdom to its proper leader. So just hand over what you have left, and I we'll call it a day!"
She sighs, feeling a bit calmer with each passing minute. "Alright, but you might want to have a pen and paper ready. It's quite a list, actually."
Mario and Luigi feel their way around the subway tunnels while the trains are temporarily out of service. The dim lights allow them to see where they step, which isn't as pretty as they thought it would be.
"So what are we looking for exactly?" says Luigi.
"What we're looking for is a crevice, or opening of some kind that connects the tunnels and the sewers. Those creatures were still in the sewers when we last saw some of them, so they must've found a way to come back…here!" Mario slides his hand against the wall until it stops right in front of a rough-edged hole.
Luigi shines a light through the hole, and the surface of metal piping can be seen on the other side. "Well, our 'pipe sense' never failed us yet." He turns to Mario and motions his hand from him to the hole. "Lead the way, fearless leader."
Mario smirks as he climbs through the hole first. Luigi follows with the flashlight. They both step into the moderately sized sewer pipe, into the shallow stream of water. They both ready their hammers, and begin their search through the sewers.
The sewers grow darker and darker as they proceed. Soft echoes ring through. Even with Luigi's flashlight, the shadows that cross the beam of light slightly put the brothers on edge. Mario tries to use his 'pipe sense' to follow a trail to a larger section of the sewers. Luigi stays close behind with the flashlight. And behind him…a white, round specter floats. Every time Luigi turns around, the ghost covers its eyes and disappears. Then when Luigi faces forward, the ghost reappears and continues making faces out of sight of the brothers.
"Hey, bro? Did you here that?" asks a worried Luigi.
"I don't think I heard anything other than the echo of water dripping" says Mario.
They soon enter a large, dome-like room. As the two brothers make their way to the center of the echoing room, the white ghost follows closely behind them. The ghost taps Luigi's shoulder. Luigi turns around fast, but not before the ghost shuts its eyes and disappears. While Luigi looks the other way, the ghost reappears right under his flashlight, and switches it off. Luigi screams and drops the flashlight. Now the room gets unsettlingly dark and quiet.
"Oh relax, Weegee," assures Mario. "It's-a just us two. I don't think one of the critters snuck by us unnoticed."
"But something touched me!" quivers Luigi as he desperately feels the ground for the flashlight, "And I think I heard laughter."
"I didn't hear a thing." Luigi finally finds the flashlight. "Besides," Mario continues, "if you didn't see something touch you, they'd had to be…"
Luigi turns on the flashlight between them. Floating before them is a spherical white ghost, with stubby arms and a stubby tail. His eyes squint hard and his fangs gleam in the light.
"A ghost?" snickers the ghost.
Mario and Luigi scream simultaneously. The flashlight flies out of Luigi's hand and into the air. As it spins in place, the light beams all around the room, revealing all the Shellcreepers, Sidesteppers, Fighter Flies, Gotcha Wrenches, and Spinies standing in a circle all around the room. The flashlight lands back in Mario's open hand this time.
"Boo!" laughs the ghost.
The brothers scream again. Luigi cowers behind Mario, while the other tightly grasps the flashlight and his golden hammer.
"Oh, don't worry," says the Boo, "We aren't here to hurt you…yet!"
"Y-you're-a not?" says Mario, starting to calm down a bit. "Well, what are-a you guys up to this time? Going to raid the Empire State Building? Camp out and litter Central Park?"
"Oh no, no, no. Actually, we're quite done with this place you call 'The Big Apple'. Quite a weird name, if you ask me, but then again, we come from a place with much weirder names. We're try to go back to said place, actually!"
"Really?" says Luigi, stepping next to Mario. "Then, why not just go?"
"Just go?" the Boo laughs, "We'd love to go back! I'd sure miss this world, as the lights don't bother me as badly. But, unfortunately, we've been blocked off. So for the past few days or so, we could not go back. Fortunately, that's where you guys come in!"
"Us?" says a slightly confused Mario, "what do you want with us?"
"Well, I've heard a word or two on the street. And you two guys are quite the talk of the city. It's been said that you have done feats that break the barriers of impossibility. So I thought maybe you guys could break a barrier for us."
"Okay…" Mario hesitates. "So where is-a it?"
"First, I'd like to see a bit of proof of your actions." The Boo floats off to one side of the room. "So ghouls and guys…" The creatures get a bit more active. Mario and Luigi ready their hammers. "Go scare their pants off!"
All the creatures charge toward the center of the room where the brothers stand. The noises get as loud as a jackhammer from the additional echoes.
"This is-a nothing, right?" says Mario confidently.
"Just about," shrugs Luigi.
What happens next occurs in mere minutes. The Shellcreepers get side-blinded. The Sidesteppers get stomped. The Fighter Flies get winded. The Gotcha Wrenches get whacked. The Spinies get jabbed. All the enemies barely stand a chance against the fury of twin hammers! When all is said and done, the creatures flee away toward a tunnel out of the room. Mario and Luigi stay where they are to catch their breath.
"Wow, that was impressive!" says the Boo. "Now that you're qualified for the job, let's play a new game. Follow us, if you can!" The Boo laughs as it vanishes into the same tunnel.
"Should we really follow them?" pants Luigi.
Mario hands him the flashlight. "Hold this; I'm-a going to need a free hand where we're going." He starts fast-walking toward the tunnel. "Now, let's-a go!"
"Okeydokey!" he says as he follows his brother.
"…and the cook will need daily trips to Lostwood Forest to get many crucial ingredients," continues Peach, "such as…"
"We got our own cook, princess!" interrupts a very impatient Bowser. "I think you gave us enough for the list!" A Goomba holds the very, very, very long paper. He has the pen in its mouth, looks at the list in a sort of confused manner, and shrugs. "But, you failed to mention one very important thing!"
"And what is that?"
"You will have to remove the barrier you left on the Special Pipe!" he growls.
"But why bother? It's going to transport itself any moment now, and then you'll have to search for it again, possibly for years, and…"
"It's still there now!" he roars, flames licking the edges of his mouth. "And you will reopen it this instant!"
The princess sweat-drops. "This might be a good opportunity for me to free the petrified Toads. But the Koopa Troop might get more reinforcement from that Special Pipe, which might hinder our possible future attacks by the Toad Council."
"Your actions that follow will determine if we win, or lose, in the end" rings Toadsworth earlier words to her.
"On the other hand…" Peach returns her attention to a fuming Bowser. "I'll open the Special Pipe." She gives a small smile to herself. "I hope you find what you're expecting."