The New World Order
Mario and Luigi continue to stare at their new surroundings. The green hills with eyes, the hundreds of thousands of brick cubes, and the bright white clouds shaped like the bushes below them all boggle their minds. The brothers still lie on their stomachs.
"This is…wow, this is…" starts Mario.
"…nice grass?" finishes Luigi. The two look finally get up on their feet.
Mario takes a breath. "This air is-a much fresher than New York. I feel a bit better already."
"Same. But maybe we should get back…" Luigi turns around and yelps. Mario looks as well, and is shocked to notice the pipe they came out of…to be completely gone. "Oh no! Where did it go? How are we ever going to get back now?" Luigi glances at himself. His brown shirt now turned green, and his green overalls are now blue. "And why did our clothes change colors?" He begins running circles around his brother as the latter ponders the predicament.
Mario looks at himself. His shirt also changed color from blue to red, and his overalls from red to blue. But they're caps are still the same red and green as before. Sighing, he tugs on the back of Luigi's shirt collar to get his attention. "Look, we're-a in a new place, with new people, and probably new physics too. If this is-a the same kind of things we've-a encountered in New York, then at least we don't have a lot of adapting to work on."
"I think this is already too much to adapt to! We need to look for help to get back home right away!"
He smiles. "That's-a novel idea; beats standing around. Besides, I'd like to get a good look at the lay of the land." With that, the brothers walk toward the sun.
Two Koopa Troopas move the statue of General Toad to a large side room in Peach's Castle. "There, that should be the last of them," says one of them.
"Yeah, our king certainly got a lot of them!"
Suddenly, all the Toad statues begin to glow, much to the utter shock of the two Koopas. The statues crack bit by bit. Then the rough surface sheds off, and all the Toads begin to stretch about. General Toad takes a couple of seconds to realize where he is. Then he sees the two Koopas clutching each other in fear, and it doesn't take any time at all to know what to do with them.
The other Toads watch as General Toad makes quick work of the Koopas, stomping on them and kicking their shells into a far corner of the room. General Toad picks up a nearby wooden chair, shatters it, and holds a piece in each hand. "Come with me!" He shouts. "This war is hardly over!" Then all the Toads rush out of the room, making battle cries as they attack the unsuspecting Goombas and Koopas.
It takes a while for the brothers to realize it is still morning where they are. But they are too busy looking around to notice what time of day it is. Yellow and brick blocks stay suspended in various configurations, sometimes near a steep wall of rock to make it easier to make it over, and sometimes for no apparent reason. But the brothers walk along the grassy flats toward the morning son, assuming that at some point they would reach a town or city of some kind.
Luigi begins to drag behind his brother. "It feels like we've been walking for hours. Maybe we should rest."
Mario looks up to the sun, still hanging low in the light blue sky. "Strange. Still looks like it's-a morning. But sure, let's stop for a few minutes."
The two rest their backs against a hillside by some yellow blocks. Then Mario's stomach growls. "You may be right, Weegee. It may be still morning here, but my stomach thinks it's-a lunch time."
"Maybe we're on the west coast?"
He cocks an eyebrow. "With hills like these? Then we must have landed on the movie set of a bad video game movie." Then the two stop talking as they faintly hear different voices just down the grassy lane. "Hey, some intelligent life is coming our way!" As Mario and Luigi get back up, four brown mushroom-like beings walk their way. They file in two pairs, one directly behind the other.
"Do you think the princess moved the Special Pipe?" says one chestnut mushroom.
"Dude, that pipe is always moving," says another one. "we're lucky we got the tanks and stuff as is."
"What about those Sidesteppers and Fighter Flies we sent in there?" says the third one.
"Better us than them, I say" says the last one.
Then the four fungus beings stop in their tracks as they stand before Mario and Luigi. The brothers in turn freeze. Both parties look at each other bewildered for several seconds.
Mario gives a weak smile. "Um, hi?"
"Who the heck are these mooks?" whispers one of the mushroom guys in the back to the one next to him.
"They look human," he whispers back. "Maybe they are allied with the princess!"
"Alright…you!" says one of the mushroom guys in the front. "What's your business here?"
"We're, uh, lost," pipes Luigi.
"You guys wouldn't happen to know where the nearest town is, would you?" asks Mario.
The creatures give a stern look. "You best turn back then, while we're in a good mood!" says one of them in the front. "All this here is Lord Bowser's land now. And unless you'd like to share a cell next to the princess…scram!"
"Uh, could we have a minute?" Luigi motions Mario to turn around and bend in close to each other. "Whatever the hell these things are, they seem like bad news!"
"I think so, too," says Mario.
"What do we do now?"
Mario ponders for a second, then pounds a fist down on his other hand. "We talk it out. If my hunches are-a right, they might know more than they let on." The brothers then turn to the mushroom guys. "Look, maybe we started out on the wrong foot. I'm-a Mario, and this is-a my brother, Luigi. Who, or rather what, are-a you?"
The creatures look a bit miffed. "Hey!" says one in the front, "You better watch your tongue, human! We Goombas are the toughest, smartest creatures of the Koopa Kingdom! So you'd best show some respect!"
"Sorry, okay! It's just that, I've-a seen turtles, crabs, and flies your size, but I've-a never seen anyone like you guys before…"
"Wait, what? What do you know about Shellcreepers, Sidesteppers, and Fighter Flies?" The Goombas take a few steps closer. "Where did you see them?"
The brothers sweat drop. "We'll, they were-a trashing my city, and I got lost when I got in a tangle with them…"
"They fought the Shellcreepers!" gasps one of the Goombas in the back. "They must be agents of the princess sent to stop them!"
The Goombas all line up in a row. "Alright, bubs! Nobody messes with the Koopa King's plans. You've come back to the wrong place for the last time!" Then they charge at the brothers single file.
Mario and Luigi yelp and leap back high. Really high. Mario leaps all the way onto a floating brick block, while Luigi leaps even higher and longer, until he slips and lands further back. The Goombas hesitate, but keep charging toward Luigi now. Mario leaps onto the back Goomba. With a loud plop, the Goomba is knocked out cold. The Goombas halt. They are shocked to find their comrade defeated in one blow. "Get him, quick!" They charge at Mario this time, in a single file once again.
But they forget Luigi, who now gets up and runs from behind them. He punches one of them in the head. While this does knock the Goomba down, Luigi clenches his fist. "Geez, you guys have rocks for brains or something?"
The two remaining Goombas notice Luigi again. While the two flinch, Mario jumps up above them. He stomps onto one's head, and then stomps on the other in the same jump. Finally, Mario lands right next to the Goomba Luigi punched.
"Ug, I'd rather take a Toad's spear than whatever mean hook that was." He then notices the other three Goombas knocked out, and a man in red and blue standing next to him.
"I apologize," Mario scoffs, "now we've-a started on the wrong foot."
"Look, man," stammers the Goomba, "I'm just a patrol guy. But I've got plenty others like me back at our base. So if you think you're just gonna walk away quietly…"
Mario stomps his heel inches from the Goomba's face. The Goomba yelps, but Luigi stands behind him, arms crossed. "I guess you do have rocks for brains," scoffs Luigi.
"Now listen here," Mario says sternly. "Those Shellcreepers, Sidesteppers, and Fighter Flies you mentioned? We've-a beat them. All of them. Ourselves. How many did you guys send over? Hundreds? Over a thousand? And that was-a before we could leap as high and stomp as hard as you've-a seen us just now." Mario gets his face-up close to the Goomba's panic-stricken face. "But we're-a tired, and we just want a place to get our bearings straight. So unless you want a sample of what you're-a buddies got, how about you just tell us where the nearest town is…now!"
"Ack! Okay! Okay! The capital is a bit a ways down the grass path we came from. It's east of here. Just please, don't stomp me!"
He smiles. "There, thank you. Let's-a go, Luigi."
The brothers continue down the grassy path the Goomba pointed out. Luigi seems a bit shell-shocked. "I've…never jumped so high before! How?"
"I don't know, but…" Mario chuckles to himself, "that felt…awesome! And those stomps felt so invigorating! I've-a never been so pumped with adrenaline like that…ever. I like this place already."
"Let's get to that capital first before we think of settling down, shall we?"
H-h-hey!" shouts the Goomba, now left several feet behind the brothers next to his fallen comrades. "There are plenty more Goombas at the capital! And Koopa Troopas! So you'd better turn away while you can still walk free!"
The brothers look at each other. "I know what you're-a going to say, Weegee," says Mario, "but we should still go to that capital. It's-a the only place we know around…wherever we are."
"I figure as much, bro," he replies gloomily. "But we don't have our hammers anymore." He points to their belt loops.
Mario sighs in response. "Maybe so. But what do we need hammers for if we got some good ol' stomping shoes." Mario jumps across the grassy area. "Come on. We'll practice along the way."
Luigi sighs. "Better than improv, I guess."
General Toad gets into a fight with a Hammer Bro in the middle of Toad Town. The Hammer Bro smashes the two wooden sticks the general was using, but the general flings the splinters at his foe. This forces the Hammer Bro to fall over and crawl away in pain. General Toad takes a moment to survey the chaos around him. All the other Toads are busy fighting off two or three soldiers of the Koopa Troop. And soon, four Goombas and another Hammer Bro rush at the general. "We don't have time to fight like this for long," he growls. "Got to think of a plan."
Meanwhile, Toadsworth sneaks out of his hiding place in the castle and carefully walks up to the balcony. He is crestfallen to see that the Toads are, once again, scrambling about just trying to outlast the Koopa Troop soldiers still situated at their capital. "Oh no! Looks like we're doomed to repeat the last battle again."
Then something at the border of Toad Town catches Toadsworth's eye. He pays closer attention and spots two non-Toad beings clad in red and green lying flat on a rooftop. The two seem to be watching what is going on and whispering to each other. The old Toad rubs his eyes. "Either my eyes have gone real bad, or…" Just as he tries to get a closer look, the two beings jump off the roof and onto street level. Toadsworth stands there confused for a second. Then his face lights up. "Maybe…"
General Toad gets knocked hard against a building by a Hammer Bro. Two Goombas join the Hammer Bro and surround the general. The Hammer Bro sneers and raises a hammer over the body-ached Toad. "Ah, crud" winces the general. He squints his eyes as he waits helplessly for his fate.
Suddenly, a man in red and a man in green each stomp on a Goomba near the Hammer Bro. Just as the hammer wielder turns to figure out what hit them, the brothers jump into the air. The Hammer Bro lowers his hammer, thinking the threat is at ground level. Unfortunately for him, the man in red stomps on his head, knocking him out cold. The man in green lands beside General Toad, and notices that this Toad is wearing a badge.
"Hey, bro," says the one in green to the one in red, "I think this one might be their leader. Or at least an officer of some kind."
The red guy walks up to the general, offers a hand, and smiles. "Need some help?"
General Toad looks astonished, but reaches for the red guy's hand. "Who…" He winces again as he tries to get up. The man in green helps the general lie back down against the building.
"Look, I'll cut to the chase. I'm-a Mario, and this is-a my brother Luigi. We're-a here to help."
The general gives a wiry half-smile. "If that's so…get every Goomba, Koopa, and Hammer Bro out of my town…by any means necessary!"
Mario tips his cap. "Will do." And the two jump into another fight down town.
The fight quickly turns to the Toads' favor. Mario and Luigi simply leap from building to building, running along the rooftops. Whenever they spot a member of the Koopa Troop harassing a Toad, one of them leaps off, jumps on the poor soldier's head, and rebounds back to the rooftops before it knows what hit them. The Toads get more vigorous as they see the battle shift to their advantage. A half an hour later, the Koopa Troop calls for a retreat.
As the streets clear of enemies and the Toads begin to settle down, Mario and Luigi run back to General Toad. Two Toad doctors are already upon the fallen general.
The general looks up to Mario and Luigi, who stand by his stretcher. "You're as good as your word. The princess…would be proud…" General Toad closes his eyes and quickly sleeps out of exhaustion.
"But, we still have questions…" Luigi starts.
"Then how about you ask me?" The brothers turn to the voice. An old brown spotted Toad with a mushroom cane approaches them. "Besides, I have a few questions myself."
"Okay then…" Mario takes a deep breath. "For us…where are-a we, what's-a been going on, and who are-a you mushroom guys?"
"…What he said," adds Luigi.
Toadsworth eyes them suspiciously. "Well, I guess if you aren't from around here, I guess it's only fair that I fill you in. Though I would think that anyone for miles around would've at least heard of the Mushroom Kingdom."
"We…never heard of any Mushroom Kingdom before" starts Mario.
"…or seen anyone like you guys" Luigi finishes.
Toadsworth nearly drops his cane. "Oh my…" Tears nearly fill his eyes. "You must be the ones who…I mean, of course." He tries to regain his composure, but only just. "If you aren't anywhere from around here, then I must fill you in." Toadsworth motions the brothers to follow him into Peach's Castle as he continues talking. "I'm Toadsworth. My kind is called Toad. We are the main civilians of what's left of our Mushroom Kingdom. We are standing in the capital of the kingdom, Toad Town. But our defining icon is the Mushroom Castle." The three of them step through the main doors of the castle. The floors and walls are battered, some of the paintings are shredded, and furniture remains sprawled around. But the brothers are amazed nonetheless.
"Never been in a castle before" says Luigi.
"Sorry for the mess, or this would be even more impressive."
"I heard talk of a princess," begins Mario, "Is-a this her castle? Is-a she here?"
Toadsworth heaves a great sigh. "Sadly, she's been kidnapped." At this moment, the old Toad leads the brothers to a balcony on the east side of the castle.
"I'm-a sorry…" Mario dazes out as he looks down at his feet.
"It comes with the price of war…" Toadsworth continues, almost breaking down. "If you lived as long as me, you'd think we have always been at war." He points his cane off into the distance. Mario and Luigi notice small, stone castles off in the distance. "That is where the Koopa Troop lies. Our kind and theirs have not always been on good terms. And just recently, they nearly took us down. This castle…our town down below…our princess…is all that is left of our once prosperous kingdom." He turns to the brothers. "I know this is asking much of you, and you probably just got here, but please, rescue our princess. She is our most powerful and potential asset our kingdom has, in more ways than one."
Mario looks back down. Luigi is taken aback. "Um, I feel really bad for what you guys are going through, I do," says Luigi. "But we only came here by accident, and we just wanted to know how to get back…"
Toadsworth leaps in front of Luigi and grabs him by his overall straps. His eyes appear bloodshot. "Please! You are our last shot we got! And she's all I have left! I swore to her father I'd protect her! Losing her means...losing everything. You understand what it's like to lose someone you care about, right?!"
"Pauline…" Mario whispers to himself. Then he looks up. "Alright, we'll help you save her."
Toadsworth immediately lets go of Luigi and crawls to Mario, almost kissing his feet. "Thankyouthankyouthankyou!"
"But please, once we save her and push back the Koopa Troop, will you tell us how we can get back through the pipe we came through?"
"Of course, of course, anything for you!"
"Well, in that case…" Luigi begins, but Mario takes him by the arm as he walks back into the castle.
"Any useful tips we might need before we take on an entire army?"
"Those yellow blocks that float around the kingdom," says Toadsworth as he gets back on his feet, "If you hit them hard enough, you might find something useful in them."
He cocks an eyebrow. "Thanks." Then he begins to head into the castle with his brother.
"Oh, and be careful of the Koopa King! He's got more than the princess as a hostage. And his new weapon can turn beings to stone!"
The two brothers look at each other for a worrisome second. "We'll be extra careful if we see him." Mario and Luigi run down the castle stairs and out into the town.
Toadsworth watches as the brothers run out of town and toward the bases of the Koopa Troop. "You guys…remind me of the ones I sent away years ago…" he says to himself. He clenches a hand on the balcony railing. "If that is true, then you really are one of the destined heroes of legend."
Mario and Luigi continue their brisk pace toward the nearest Koopa Troop base they saw earlier. "Okay, so let me get this straight:" starts Luigi, "we are going to use our super jumping abilities we never had before to take down an army of mushroom and turtle men we never encountered much before to save a princess of Toads who don't look like their namesake, all to get back home."
Mario laughs, "Yep, that pretty much sums up our new adventure."
He smirks back. "Just checking. Let's just get this over with!"
Mario leaps ahead. "Let's-a go!"
Captain Toad wakes up in a dimly lit dungeon. "Where am I? How…" He looks around and notices dozens of other Toads with him. They are locked up in a prison cell, with two Hammer Bros guarding their locked bars. The other Toads huddle in the back of their cell, gloomily hunched over. When he looks over to the next cell over, he sees the princess lying on the floor. "Princess!" he cries as he rushes over to the bars lined between the cells. "Princess, wake up! Are you alright?" But no answer comes from her.
Just then, the doors to the dungeon open not too far ahead of their cells. The Toads squint as they see Kamek enter the room. The Hammer Bros snap to attention.
"We've got trouble" Kamek says crossly. "Toad Town has been taken back from us."
The two Hammer Bros stand there confused. The Toads perk up at the sound of that news.
"Right now, the Toads have sent some special operatives our way; the same ones that trashed our soldiers situated there. And we've heard stories of how strong they are."
The Toads begin to whisper gleefully to each other. "Yes!" Captain Toad cheers to himself.
Kamek walks right up to the cell bars. The Toads step back a bit, their smiles fading away instantly. "So, as an added precaution, we're going to have to split them up between our bases." He sneers, "and we've got some extra surprises our king would love to show to those…heroes!"