Through the Warp Pipe
Mario and Luigi chase after the Boo and his motley crew of previously-encountered enemies through the sewers. As they run deeper and deeper into the sewers, they slowly and surely close the gap between themselves and the Boo.
"I'm-a getting that warm and fuzzy feeling again," Mario says to his brother, "like we had back when Brooklyn was attacked."
"Same here, bro" he replies. "I bet we're getting closer to where they want us to go."
"Or…" Mario gets very close behind the Boo, "we could peg them…" jumps up above him, "right where we are!" he brings the hammer down upon the ghost. To both of their surprise, the hammer makes its mark and pins the Boo down on the ground.
"Ow! Hey, wait!" groans the Boo, "I'm supposed to be a ghost! In this world, that means practically nothing can harm me" He stops to ponder what he just said. "So…if I can be harmed now…" His face beams and a huge grin reappears on his face. "We're almost there! We're almost there! Ahahahahaha!" The giddy ghost slips out from under Mario's hammer and speeds ahead in the direction he was already heading.
The brothers shrug and continue their pursuit, this time at a brisk jogging pace. They care less about catching up to their enemies, in case they set a trap. Besides, they have their 'pipe sense' guiding them through and keeping tabs on where the enemies are basically going. In about half an hour, the two begin to hear the cries of agitated critters echoing down the sewer pipe. The distinct laugh of the Boo is particularly audible. They slow down simultaneously to a walking pace.
"If this is an ambush, at least it won't be a surprise" grunts Luigi.
"Hey, Weegee," Mario starts a bit hesitantly, "I have a question for you. And it's-a not about what's-a going on right here and now."
"Okay then, what is it?"
"Do you think Pauline and I have a shot?"
Luigi pauses for a split second. "You two have gotten along together very well, so you've got to be a bit more specific than that. A shot at what exactly?"
Mario gets a bit flustered. "Well, I was thinking that maybe she and I should start going steady…"
"What? Have you even popped the question to her yet?"
"No! I mean, not that steady. Well, you know how we are together…"
"Gee, nobody has ever noticed; not even me" he smirks sarcastically.
"…but the thing is, we've still been treating each other as friends, when on multiple occasions, we've sort of been doing this same 'dance' where we kind of 'like' like each other." He pulls out a small picture of Pauline from one of his belt pockets. "I've just been thinking that maybe we should make our relationship a bit more…"
"Mario. Just tell her. Next time you talk to her, tell her."
He smiles. "Okay, Weegee. I will. And thanks." He then puts the picture back in his belt pocket.
The brothers just reach the end of the sewer pipe and into the upper level of a funnel-shaped room. They look down to see most of their enemies huddling around the bottom of the brick room. The Boo is floating in loops around a large pile of rubble on the floor.
The Boo notices the brothers, and gives them a tooth-filled smile. "Glad you could make it! Come on down; don't be shy!"
Mario and Luigi jump down the ramps and pipes jutting out from the brick walls. Most of the enemies glare at them, rearing for another fight. But no one attacks before the two of them reach the lowest level.
"So what's the deal?" asks Mario.
"This pile right here; underneath it is the path to our original homes" says the Boo.
"So you just need us to get the rubble out of the way?" says Luigi. "Not that I'm complaining or anything, but why couldn't you guys just move the debris out of the way yourselves?"
"We put the rubble here;" continues the ghost, "even after we uncover the path, there's a barrier a little ways ahead. That's what's keeping us stuck here."
"Oh." Luigi turns to Mario, who's thinking this scenario over in his head. "So how about it? We help them get out, they get to go home, and we can sleep tonight without worrying about turtles or other strange creatures to fight. Sounds like a fair deal."
"Yes, a very fair deal" the ghost grins.
Mario re-grips his golden hammer. "Alright then; let's-a unclog this nasty pipe!"
Bowser leads a division of the Koopa Troop with him to the Special Pipe, which is fortunately still in the same valley. They fly on hovering platforms into the valley and land a close distance away. Bowser steps off first, eagerly approaching the pipe. Princess Peach steps off next, forced by Kamek to follow the Koopa King. She has her wrists tied together with rope. While the other Koopa Troop soldiers stay put on the platforms, Bowser, Kamek, and Peach stand close to the front of the entrance to the pipe.
The Koopa King glances over to the princess, his arms crossed. "Well? Go on!"
Peach grits her teeth. "And you'll keep your end of the bargain?"
"Don't push your luck. I only freed a few of your people from petrification. And if you try anything funny, I've got a few prisoners of war back at my bases, waiting to be set as an example! Now…remove the force field!"
Kamek gives the princess another jab from behind, to which she responds with a glare. Then she steps up directly in front of the Special Pipe. She closes her eyes and takes deep breaths.
"This is it," she says to herself, "no turning back. I must free my people!" She raises her hands to the front of her chest. Her hands glow a pink aura, and so does the inside of the Special Pipe.
Bowser grins behind her. "Soon, my conquest will be complete!"
Mario, Luigi, the Boo, and the other enemies smash and move the rubble out of the way. After moving a sheet of metal, the last of the debris is moved away. Mario's 'pipe sense' reveals that the path of the piping snakes downward like a corkscrew. However…
"That's really weird!" exclaims Mario, "I can't 'see' where this goes at all!"
"Neither can I!" says an equally baffled Luigi. He turns to the Boo. "This isn't a trap, is it?"
"This is no trick," says the Boo, "check for yourself."
Luigi takes out his flashlight and shines it down the pipe. No further than half a meter does the beam of light stop, revealing a thinly-layered pink mist. Mario takes a brick, dropping it down the pipe. But the brick abruptly halts half a meter down, and a force field of pink light is really revealed.
"I've never seen anything like it!" Mario says with amazement.
"Yes, see!" cries the Boo, "It's that force field; we can't get through that."
Luigi still stares at the force field in disbelief. "This may be out of our field of expertise, bro. Way out."
Mario takes a look at his golden hammer, then toward the pink force field that flickers out of visibility, then back to his hammer. He stands up and grips his hammer. "Well, maybe you and your hammer can't, but perhaps my hammer might."
Luigi stands up as well, looking a bit hesitant. "Well, I guess that's possible, considering how much of a wallop it delivered to Mouser and his baddies. But still…" he puts a hand in one of his belt pockets and pulls out a small spool of metal wire. "Let's just be on the safe side."
Mario cocks an eyebrow. "You're going to use that as a tether?"
"It's pretty strong. Not as good as rope, but…"
"We've got rope," pipes up the Boo, and the other enemies jostle a bit until they pass up a rope to the front of their crowd. "We were going to use it for possible hostages, but I suppose you can use it to tie yourselves up!" The ghost laughs.
"Thanks?" Luigi cautiously takes the rope from the Sidestepper holding it. He then tethers himself and his brother with the rope to one of the smaller pipes jutting out of the wall. "Alright, bro, whenever you're ready…"
"You done yet, princess?" Bowser says impatiently.
"It's just about ready." Peach replies."And while Bowser is distracted by his new minions, I should be able to free the Toads…with what strength I got left. Now just one final break should…"
As soon as she lifts off the force field, a huge gust of wind blasts out of the Special Pipe. This knocks Peach, Bowser, and Kamek off their feet and flings them backward across the small valley. Everyone present ducks and hunkers down as low as they can while gale force winds continue to blow out.
Mario approaches the floor piping, with Luigi right next to him and holding his hammer at the ready. Just as Mario lifts his golden hammer, the pinkish force field flickers out, and a loud whoosh sound roars from the pipe. Everyone present staggers back.
"What in the…" the brothers exclaim simultaneously.
What happens next is utter chaos. First the room quakes. Cracks form in the piping connected to the room, and water gushes out. Then, while all of that happens, the whoosh sound gets even louder, and all the air in the room gets sucked down the pipe. A vortex of water, debris, and dust swirls around the room, creating a whirlpool that drains down the pipe at the center of the floor. Everyone screams as they brace for what little cover they got.
"Kamek!" Bowser roars over the even louder howling winds as he tries to stand upright against the air pressure. "Why the hell is all this wind coming out of the pipe?!"
Kamek remains pinned to the ground next to his king. "Those barriers must have been holding up a lot of air pressure, or something! I may know magic, but this is a bit out of my range of expertise, my lord!"
Peach also lies pinned to the ground a bit away from the rest of the Koopa Troop. She looks dazed and winded, but still puts as much effort to remain conscious. "…wasn't the result I was expecting," she mutters to herself, "but now's as good as any distraction to free my people!" She focuses inward, pooling as much 'heart power' as she can muster. She thinks about all those soldiers and innocent bystanders who were harmed by Bowser's Blockra. Each mental check focuses in on each victim like a GPS tag. Then, once she thinks she's got all of them in her collected thoughts, she releases her pool of 'heart power'. But with all that energy expelled at such a large range and volume, she gasps and flickers greatly out of consciousness. "I…it is done…"
After another minute of blustery winds, the Special Pipe suddenly fades out of existence. Thus, the winds die out quickly. Bowser looks toward the Special Pipe, but there is only a smooth rock face where it once was.
"It's…gone…" Bowser stares blankly at the empty wall for a second. Then his face morphs from disbelief to rage. "Nooooo!" he shouts as he expels a jet of flame into the air. After a bit of fuming he turns to Kamek and Peach. The Magikoopa stands back up, but the princess remains motionless on the ground. Both he and Kamek approach the princess. "Hey, princess!"
Kamek pokes his wand at Peach's side a few times, but she doesn't respond. "I think removing the force field and the wind blast knocked her out stone cold, your magnificentness!" he exclaims.
Bowser semi-carefully scoops up the princess and holds her over his left shoulder with one arm. "Then we're done here!" He gets back onto one of the floating platforms. All of his troops stand aboard the platforms and regain their attention for the Koopa King. "Head back to our bases! We need to make sure she did not screw anything else up!"
The vortex of water and air remains relentless. Mario and Luigi hang on to their ropes for dear life. Both of them have lost their hammers to the torrent of water. The water surges across the floors they cling to, making it even more slippery and difficult to hold. One by one, the enemies around them get sucked down the pipe at the center of the chaos. Even the Boo giddily twirls about as he goes with the flow.
"Eeheeheeheehee! We did it! We're going home!" His laughing get drowned out as soon as he disappears down the pipe.
The vacuum-like vortex feels as if it only gets stronger and stronger with each passing second. Small debris scrapes against the brothers as they are forced to resort to keep hold of the rope, so as the loop of rope around their waist doesn't tug too tight from the suction. Mario struggles to inch his way up the rope little by little. Luigi also tries to do the same thing. But some rough debris rubs hard against his rope, creating a tear in the middle. Neither of them notices the inevitable.
Mario hears a loud snap. He quickly turns around and sees Luigi flailing and screaming as the spiraling water takes him down the pipe.
"Nooo!" Without a second thought, Mario grabs a thin rod that washes by him. Then he quickly unties the rope around his waist. Mario blindly swims his way down the shallow torrent of water, albeit tussling about like a ragdoll.
"Mario! Help!" cries Luigi as he is about to fall into the pipe. Mario half-squints as he reaches his free hand out to the bit of rope still tied and hanging off of Luigi's waist. Luigi falls in first. Mario also follows suit. But to their luck, the rod Mario holds is just long enough that it surpasses the diameter of the floor pipe. Mario struggles to hold onto both the rod in his right hand and his brother hanging there helplessly by the rope in his other hand.
Luigi takes a look around the pipe. The walls are clad in green. The pipe begins its spiral path a few meters below Luigi. He can still feel the suction from below as well, which also puts a great strain on Mario's grasp.
"Hey, Mario, I think I lost my hammer" says Luigi. "If you still got yours, I can…"
"I…don't" Mario groans. Then something distracts his attention briefly. By some miraculous probability, the picture of Pauline had fallen out of Mario's belt pocket and got jammed in a crevice. It flaps in the wind, right in front of Mario's face. He finds himself staring at the picture, until the rod he holds begins to bend.
At this point, Mario realizes he won't make it out, and neither will his brother. They won't be going back to the surface. They won't be returning to their apartment. They won't be continuing their plumbing job in Brooklyn. And for Mario, he won't be seeing Pauline anytime soon.
Mario weeps silently. The rod bends more and more. Luigi keeps making quick glances above and below him. As the rod begins to slim off the edges of the entrance to the pipe, Mario takes one last look at the Pauline picture.
"I'm so sorry, Pauline, that I won't be able to tell you how I…"
The rod slips out of place completely.
For what feels like hours, Mario and Luigi tumble through the dark and twisting path of the pipe. They both scream, beg for the falling to stop.
Then, a light at the other end appears before them. A few seconds later, the brothers fly out of the Special Pipe. They land in a huge field of grass. They take a minute just to gather their bearings.
Luigi is the first to look up. "Um…bro?" His eyes grow really wide. "Please tell me it's just me. I think the hills are looking at me!"
Mario also looks up. His eyes grow wide with disbelief. While they did lie in a huge grassy field, hills surrounded them. Some of these hills even have…blank-staring eyes. And even stranger is the amount of blocks and bricks everywhere. They are shaped like big cubes, and some even remain suspended in midair.
"I'm-a seeing it, Luigi," he says, "and I don't think we're-a in Brooklyn anymore!"