Plumber Premier (Part 3)
"Quick, give me my wrench to throw! Maybe that'll work." Shouts Mario through the mass of swirling flies.
"Sorry bro, but we dropped all our gear when that Shellcreeper chased us earlier." Luigi replies.
While the brothers try to fight off the flies, Pauline is holding a fainted girl on her lap while she calls 9-1-1. A few minutes later, policemen and firefighters reach the scene. With guns drawn, it doesn't take long for the flies to bother them, too. Some policemen crouch in hopes of avoiding the onslaught, while most of the others begin firing rounds into the air. The flies spread out, desperately avoiding the bullets, and momentarily fly about in disarray. As some policemen try to fend them off, the other emergency teams begin to check the neighborhood to make sure everyone is alright. Mario and Luigi try to catch their breath when a firefighter checks up on them.
"No, we're alright, sir" says Mario, while Luigi gives his brother a dirty look. Mario points out to Pauline and the girl, and the firefighter goes to collect the girl, as he calls up a medical team to his position.
"Really?" cries a slightly ticked Luigi, "We're 'all right'? We just fought flies just under half your height, wearing mittens and booties, and…geez, I must've been having something" Luigi begins clutching his head as he lurches over in miscomprehension of what he just saw. Mario keeps squinting his eyes into the air, watching the flies above.
Suddenly, the buzzing of flies roars back to life as they regroup above the street, and form a focused aerial dive. The firearms of the police do nothing to stop their charge, and the flies return to swarm the street.
"Augh! The Fighter Flies are back!" says Luigi as he slides to the gravel this time. Mario starts spinning around and jumping every which way in a desperate attempt to swat the Fighter Flies away. Pauline stays close to Mario, with a broom in hand, as she tries to defend herself. Policemen flee from the scene, trying to lead civilians to safety.
The firefighters man their fire trucks, and use the hoses to spray away the Fighter Flies. The fly creatures back off and fly away toward the East River. As everyone breathes a sigh of relief, Mario looks toward the direction the flies flew, pondering.
Mario walks up to a tensed up Pauline. "Pauline, is this what you wanted to show me earlier?"
Pauline calms down a bit as she brings her attention back to reality. "Not…really. While this was much worse, what was happening before was just as bizarre. You see, people in this area were screaming about these larger-than-normal turtles that were crawling out of the sewers and into their apartment basements."
"Those Shellcreepers we saw earlier!" Mario turns to his brother. "I bet the turtles and flies are-a somehow related." He then looked around, gesturing as he speaks. "We were-a just at Myrtle Ave, where there are-a plenty of food places those critters are probably attracted to. It isn't too far from here, where the turtles were-a heading from. Now these flies came by, and retreated to the East River over there, which sort of lines up with the same direction the Shellcreepers probably came from. So…"
"Oh no!" Luigi waved his hands in front of himself. "I see where you're going with this, and I don't think it's safe one bit! This is a job for the police, bro! Why not let them handle it?"
"Because they handled those Fighter Flies so well the first time, right?" Mario points to a few policemen still nearby, looking shaken up. Mario turns to Pauline. "How long ago did those turtle creatures come by here?"
"Um, I think it was about an hour or so from now?" she says.
"Hm, considering the turtles and flies can run like there's no tomorrow, it doesn't seem like they have any particular destination." Mario begins to pace in front of Pauline and Luigi. "But they seem organized enough that they can defend themselves…and be on the offense. And if our wave of plumbing customers we had early this morning are-a related to these critters causing mishaps…"
"In which case," says Luigi, "how about we go to them next, since they called for us?"
"Myrtle Ave…Pacific Street…10th Street…" Mario points his fingers in the air to assist him in making a mental map. Then his eyes grow wide. "…then those creatures covered a lot of ground…er, underground…already!"
Luigi takes a second to think over what his brother said, and then his eyes grow wide, too. "Oh no! Then they're all over Brooklyn already?!"
"With the police force so thin, they'll probably be too busy to strike back at the invaders" gasped Pauline. "Then someone's got to strike them at they're source"
Mario tightened his cap. "Precisely. And I know just where we should look." Mario turns north toward the East River.
"Do we have to?" says Luigi. "Isn't someone else a bit more qualified for this? And what about our apartment, with these Shellcreepers and Fighter Flies out there"
"Come on, Weegee. We're the Mario Brothers! If we can handle speedy turtles and dog-sized flies, how much worse could it get?"
Suddenly, a soft, muffled boom sound goes off, and then the ground slightly shakes below them. Luigi gives Mario a stern look. Mario can only respond with a quick shrug of his shoulders.
"Well, wherever we're going, we better make it there fast" says Pauline.
"Toad Patrol, lower your spears and poke those traitors out of the way!" barks General Toad.
"Goomba Storm, dash forward with all the speed you got!" a Goomba yells.
The battle begins between the Toads and Goombas. The Toads stay in four equal rows as they charge forward toward they're enemies. This knocks over half of the Goombas who only chose to press forward. However, a bunch of Goombas leap into the air, crashing head first into the front three rows. The two middle rows of Toads do raise they're sticks into the air in retaliation, but it doesn't stop the Goombas from falling in between their ranks.
General Toad stays busy at the front lines, swishing his stick to and fro. The other Toads soon do the same. At first, the Toads have the upperhand in skill, spinning and sliding they're way through the marching of Goombas. Even outnumbered, their coordinated attacks under the guide of General Toad prove no match for the archaic, leaderless Goombas.
However, with a Toad-to-Goomba ratio of 1 to 10, the sheer number of Goombas eventually splits up the Toad Patrol into pairs, each surrounded by Goombas. Their sticks merely keep the Goombas at bay in a ring formation as the Toads go back to back. An hour in, the Toads begin to sweat bullets. The gale-force winds from the windmill subside when one of its gears strain too much and stops it in place. A poultry few Goombas do tire out enough to back off, but isn't enough to break the containment.
General Toad does catch on to the problem. He chains some head-stomps on Goombas to reach each pocket of his soldiers who begin to tire out. He gives his compatriots small rations of Super Mushrooms to help replenish their strength. He even uses his own head as a fighting weapon…literally! But even with his assistance, little ends the stalemate between the bitter enemies.
All the while, a lone Captain Toad hides in some bushes up on the left hill. His eyes are fixated and staring at the battle scene, while the rest of his body quivers. "Oh man, I messed up big time! I should've made sure that the windmill didn't go out of control. And now, because of me, I botched the sneak attack that General Toad was supposed to do. Oh, what should I do?" He nibbles his fingers. "I want to help them somehow, but if I rush in there, those Goombas will surely spot me and headbonk me into submission! And what would General Toad say to me about my task…that I ruined?" Toad puts his hands to his mushroom cap as he bends his head down and closes his eyes. "Why did I sign up for this? I'm a coward! The whole town knows it! I had nothing to prove…" He opens his eyes again, looking back out to the battle. Just at that moment, he notices that the main activity of the battle has been moving slowly and surely away from the opening to the valley between the hills. Which is exactly where General Toad was trying to lead his captains over to.
"That one shot…that one opening…" Toad slowly gets up. "The one chance to redeem myself, and help save the kingdom I live in." He puts a hand behind his back, checking to be sure his stick was still in its holster behind him. He then tries to give himself a look of determination. "Yes. I'll show them. Here I go." And with one deep breath, Toad carefully sneaks down the hill, past the chaotic battle, and into the valley.
Mario, Luigi, and Pauline reach the edge of the East River. Looking around, they see the Manhattan Bridge to their right, with ships bustling in and out of Wallabout Bay. To their left, the Brooklyn Bridge crosses above a ferry dock, where a ferry boat begins to leave the dock on another scheduled ride. The water couldn't be calmer on an otherwise peaceful and sunny day.
Mario crouches close to the river, and puts a hand on the ground. "If those turtles and flies came from the sewers, there must be a way for them to get into them. Here is probably the closest open end to the sewer system under Brooklyn. But…something feels off about the pipeway underneath us. I can feel it. Can you, Weegee?"
Luigi taps his foot a bit, half distracted by his own inner thoughts. "I guess. Yeah, something doesn't feel right. Then again, in a catastrophe like this, why wouldn't everything feel off?"
"Wait, you guys can sense where all the pipes are, just like that?" says Pauline, both confused and amused. "I don't remember this ever coming up in our personal conversations."
Mario stands back up. "Yeah. Well, we don't know how, or why, but Weegee and I can feel exactly where all the pipes are and mentally map out where they lead. It's sort of a 'sixth sense' thing. Probably got mixed up with the 'twin sense' we were supposed to get instead."
Luigi stifles a grin before looking over the water. "So, if the enemies did go by here to get into the sewers, where are they all now?"
Suddenly, a single Fighter Fly comes by from the Mahattan Bridge area, and hovers over the river. In its mittens, it holds a large blue cube, with the words 'POW' on it. It then notices the plumbers spot it. Giving a snarky chortle, it drops the cube into the water before flying off again.
"What the heck was that block thing for?" says Mario.
A huge gush of water erupts in the middle of the East River, disrupting the passing ships and ferry. A muffled boom echoes off the city buildings.
"Well, there's the source of those boom-like sounds" says Luigi, as he holds his hat tight over his head, expecting a torrent of water to pour over them. Instead, hundreds of red crab-like creatures the size of fire hydrants rain down, riding the water waves created by the underwater explosion. Most of them successfully land along shore, and few land close to Mario and company.
"Oh no, not again!" screams Luigi. He tries to run back, but in his haste nearly runs in front of a passing concession stand.
"Whoa, young man, you look like you're in a time of need" says the salesman pushing the concession stand. "The name's Friendly Floyd. Need a drink? A hammer? A pair of sunglasses? You name it, I've got it!"
"Get these crabs off my tail!" hollered Luigi.
At this moment, Mario and Pauline are in a tussle with a few of crabs, who sidestep in a circle around them. Mario tries to punch them, but that merely makes them more irritated. Mario then tries to jump on one, but with a quick snap of its claw, it pinches Mario's foot. Mario cries in pain as he falls back into the middle of the circle. Pauline consoles him. One other crab approaches Luigi, sidestepping back and forth as it gets closer and closer.
"Please, not my goods, Sidestepper!" Mr. Floyd panics, "That's my life's sales!"
As the Sidestepper gets closer and closer, Luigi cannot take it anymore! Luigi begins to spin in place, and the Sidestepper stops inches away to avoid his flying fists. He spins faster and faster, with the Sidestepper clipping its claws in preparation for a precise pinch. Then, just when the Sidestepper winds back for the pinch, Luigi sweeps to the side, while simultaneously knocking over a large tank of lemonade on Floyd's concession stand. The Sidestepper misses its target, and instead latches hold of the lemonade tank, spraying the sugary liquid everywhere. Not only does the Sidestepper attacking Luigi slip up, but so does the Sidesteppers circling Mario and Pauline, as well as Luigi himself, who's spinning gets him a bit dizzy. Mario seizes the opportunity and kicks the upside-down crabs around him into the East River.
Meanwhile, the one Sidestepper that gave Luigi so much trouble manages to upright itself, and turns its shelled hide from red to blue. It quickly turns its attention to Luigi, who is still dazed from the spinning. Mr. Floyd takes his concession stand and flees the scene.
"No, Luigi, watch out!" cries Mario. Mario picks up a bit of speed before sliding on the slippery lemonade toward his brother. The Sidestepper also uses its increased speed to try to reach the green plumber. Fortunately, Mario beats it to Luigi, using all his momentum to slide Luigi out of the way. The Sidestepper isn't so lucky, as the lemonade spill provides little friction, and it just keeps slipping and slipping into a tree. With one hard face-plant, the blue Sidestepper falls over unconscious, and Pauline moves in to hit it away.
"Are-a you okay, Weegee?" says Mario as he helps his brother up. "You were in a bit of a pinch."
Luigi shakes his head and puts a hand to his forehead. "I think so."
Just then, a loud droning sound comes overhead, and the three look up to see some air force planes, coming in for assistance. They fly over the East River, deploying special toxins meant to paralyze crabs. At first, the plan works, as dozens of Sidesteppers still along the river flee in terror. But then the all too familiar buzzing sound returns, and the swarm of Fighter Flies engage the air force. Dogfights between jets and flies take place, the planes shoot their small targets, while the Fighter Flies drop a POW block here and there to disrupt any coordination.
"Even the air force is having trouble with these invaders" gasped Pauline.
"Okay, this is really out of hand now!" says Luigi. "Come on, Mario, there's nothing more we can do…"
"Yes, there is" says Mario flatly. "We know for sure those creatures are-a coming from this area, and I bet if we can find their hiding place, we can hit 'em where they live."
"But we haven't been able to make a dent in their advances. Nobody has."
"Come on." Mario puts an elbow into Luigi's gut. "We're the Mario Brothers! We can…"
Now Luigi's face grows red with anger. He shoos Mario's arm away. "No, bro. First off, you are Mario. I'm not you. I'm just a down-to-earth plumber who cares…so much…about you, enough to follow you to ends of the Earth. But that doesn't mean I'll follow you over the edge!"
"Over the edge? The whole city is-a going 'over the edge' already. Brooklyn; our city; our only home we know of. I care about you, too. And Pauline. And the rest of our friends and neighbors." Mario clenches his fists. "I'm fighting for all of that! I'm going out, where no man dares to go. I'm striking back so hard, that no creature would dare mess with us!"
"But look at you!" Luigi points to Mario's gloves, covered in bloody cuts and bruised spots. "Your hands are as battered as a rock to the grindstone. And your shoe! Oh, Mario, look at your foot. It's scraped and bashed! I don't know how your foot isn't in pain, but we've got to get that checked. Pauline, help me take Mario…"
"I'm fine" says Mario, with an increasingly agitated and annoyed tone. "But it doesn't matter. There isn't much time. We got to stop them now!"
Luigi sighs, still fuming. "Fine, we'll stop them. But I am going back to our apartment, where it's safer. You run along on your adventure you've always wanted." Luigi starts walking back into the city.
Mario is stung by his words. "Wait…" he says faintly. "Luigi…" he says a little louder. Luigi stops for a second, then continues on. Mario looks at his blistered hands. Then his looks up at Pauline, who looks extremely worried and concerned.
"Mario…" she begins
Mario looks toward the East River again, the dogfight continuing above them, and the Sidesteppers now advancing into the city. "You better go somewhere safe, Pauline" he tells her, "and warn anyone else you know. There's no telling what those critters are after."
"What about you? Where will you go?"
Mario looks toward the Manhattan Bridge. His face turns stern. "Probably…somewhere wet."
Captain Toad tiptoes into the valley between the hills. With each step he takes, he gets more and more nervous. His right hand involuntarily bolts for the stick on his back once and a whil,e then comes back down. On one occasion, he twiddles his thumbs as he glances back and forth. But nothing is there.
"This isn't so bad." He turns back to the entrance-way of the valley…only to find that he stepped a mere 25 feet into it. "Sheesh, really?!"
Suddenly, footsteps can be heard further down the valley. "Oh no. This is it!" Toad pulls his stick out in front of him, pointed at the ready, and runs up the side of the valley behind a cliff-face at higher ground. From his vantage point, he spots the creature who was coming: a Koopa Troopa. The Koopa walks casually to the entrance to the valley. For a few painstaking seconds, Toad crouches and leans over the cliff-face, waiting to see what the Koopa would do.
Then after the Koopa is out of view, he comes back through, running as fast as he can, shouting, "I've got to warn my King! I've got to warn my King!"
"No, no, no! He can't bring reinforcements into this! I've got to do something!" Toad tries to quickly and quietly step back down the hillside. Unfortunately, he steps onto a weak part of the foundation, and a mini rockslide slips Toad down the side. "AAAACK!" screamed Toad as he careens straight toward the unsuspecting Koopa. The turtle creature glances upward at the sudden noise, and all the rubble and Toad falls straight on him. Toad jumps on his head, flips into the air, and almost falls over when he lands feet first on the valley floor.
Toad takes a few deep breaths. He nervously looks back to where the rock slide ended up, and in the middle of the pile of debris lies the Koopa, hiding in its green shell. Toad creeps over to the shell, stick at the ready. When he gets close, he nervously takes his stick and pokes the shell. He stops. Nothing happens. He pokes it again. Nothing.
A smile grows on Toad's sooty face. "I did it. I did it! Ya-ha!" He begins to dance in place with glee. Suddenly the shell begins to shake, spooking Toad out. "Oh no you don't!" he says with a panic. In a moment of instinct, Toad delivers a swift kick to the green shell, and the Koopa spins down the valley, ricocheting off the sides, and out of the valley entrance toward the Toad-Goomba battle.
"Huh. Well, I hope that does more good than harm." Toad claps his hands together, and turns further into the valley.
Mario puts his hand in various places around the East River, trying to find an entryway to the sewers that shouldn't be there. His search leads him under the Manhattan Bridge. He touches the very edge of the water. A smile broadens on his face. "Gotcha."
Mario stands up and looks around. He is alone. Most of the brawls are taking place over and within the city now, both in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Mario looks over the water. "Well, looks like my swimming skills are sure going to come in handy now." He takes a deep breath, and dives into the river.
Murky liquid and bits of trash swirl around the plumber. He tries to focus his attention to the abnormality he just detected. As he blindly follows his 'pipe senses', he does eventually brush up against the Brooklyn side of the river again. Feeling along the underwater wall, he eventually finds an opening he doesn't feel belong. He feels the air in his lungs starting to gasp for air, but trusting his gut more, he swims head first into the opening. Fortunately, it leads him into the familiar, tubular walls of a sewer, and shortly after that, a pocket of air.
Mario paddles to the surface and nearly chokes through the boggy sewage air. Mario swims a bit further until he finds a stretch of concrete to lift himself out of the water. After swishing the water out of his shoes and brushing the gunk out of his mustache, Mario walks further ahead down the sewer pipe, feeling his way to the enemies. His bad foot also starts to sting.
"Can't worry about that foot now" Mario curses under his breath, "Alright, you critters, where are-a you?"
As he walks deeper into the sewers, the eyes of Shellcreepers, Sidesteppers, and Fighter Flies glare at him with glee as they peer at their newest victim from the darkened nooks and crannies.
Meanwhile, on the surface, Luigi walks back home. His hands in his pockets, head down, and mumbling to himself.
"Hey, young man!" says a familiar voice.
Luigi turns around. "Oh, it's just you, Mr. Floyd."
Friendly Floyd runs up to Luigi, concession stand in tow. "Hey, just wanted to say how great you and your brother were when you took out those Sidesteppers. That was certainly some spectacle! What do you guys do for a living?"
"We're plumbers." Luigi looks toward his feet. "Well, we were. I like the job enough, but, I did it with Mario. And I don't even know what my bro wants anymore now."
"Hm, sounds like you have a big 'leak', as you'd plumbers might say? Or a pipe that's in two? I don't know, I'm no plumber." Mr. Floyd digs into his concession stand and pulls out a suitcase. Then he fishes through the suitcase and pulls out two sledge-like hammers, each with an enormous 'head' attached to the handles. "Here, as thanks for the help back there, take these." He gives them both to Luigi, who falls over at the surprising weight he is holding.
"Wait, are you sure? What for? Why these?"
"Well, since you and Mario are plumbers, and brothers, I believe I'm not that far off when I say they'll be of use to you in something. Heck, probably more ways than one! But its first use, will probably be to 'make ends meet'."
Luigi looks at him perplexed for a moment. Then he looks down at the hammers he got. "My bro would most certain take a liking to this hammer. Hm…I kind of like the hammers, too." Then a jolt of realization hits him. "You know, maybe I've been itching for some of that 'adventure' stuff Mario's been taking about." Luigi looks up. "Wait, my bro! I've left him alone! I've got so save my bro!" He starts to bolt down the street. But then he turns around to shake Mr. Floyd's hand. "Thanks, Friendly Floyd! But I've got to help my bro, quick!" And with that, he takes his hammers in tow and sprints back to the East River.
"Wait!" says Mr. Floyd, trying to shout over the jets flying overhead at that moment. "I was also going to mention that you're going to have to pay for those! And my concession stand needs fixing too! Just a few hundred dollars is all!"
As Luigi gets closer and closer to the riverside, he passes by tanks that are engaging some Shellcreepers and Sidesteppers. While the turtles use their hard shells to take the bullets, the crabs leap at the tanks when they get close enough, snapping the mounted cannons off. Some Shellcreepers and Sidesteppers do take notice of Luigi, but with two new hammers in hand, Luigi simply spins and jumps around like a maniac, bashing away any who dare get in between him and his dear brother.
"Have at it, you snappy saps! What to mess with me now?!"
As he presses on, he just catches a glimpse at some Sidesteppers hauling a couple of tanks, and a downed jet, toward the river.
"Wait, what are they doing with those weapons?" And then a horrifying, calamity-contrived idea pops into his head.
Toad carefully presses on through the valley. "Come on, Koopas, I can take you. I can take you all."
He reaches a sharp turn. He leans against the rocky walls. He hears Koopas chatting and metal clanging around the corner.
"I can do this. I can take them. All I need to do…is take a peek at what they're doing…and then report straight back to General Toad." He clenches his stick harder. "I can do this. I can take them. I can take…" Toad steps out around the corner.
"Soon, all of the Mushroom Kingdom will belong to me!" says a deep voice.
"…h-h-h-h-him!" gasped Toad, as he falls back in shock, unconscious at the sight of a huge, spiked-shelled Koopa.