Plumbers, Under Construction (Part 1)
"You've got to tell her."
"Me? Why me? Why not you?"
"You have all the facts; first hand. I've already told her all I can report, but you still have some things that she'll want to know."
"You have to."
"But you'll deliver the message better."
"I'm ordering you…!"
The large doors swing open. Captain Toad and General Toad look away from each other, frozen in place directly in front of the doorway. Princess Peach stands before them, looking down to them a little confused.
"I can hear your 'whispers' through the door" she says. "A simple knock would've sufficed."
The two Toads bow before the princess. General Toad looks up, looking slightly perturbed and exhausted. "Please excuse…our sudden call, but…" the general glares at the worrisome Captain Toad, "this young soldier here has some things you'd need to hear…from him personally."
"Oh?" says Peach.
Captain Toad faces the princess, having a hard time looking her in the eyes. "I…I…I saw…the Koopa King!"
Peach steps back in shock. "Eeep! Are you sure?"
"Yes. I never felt so scared in my life before I saw the face of evil!" he whimpered.
Peach stepped back into her bedroom, beckoning the two in without a word. She began to feverishly pace back and forth. "What was he doing?" she asked without looking at either Toad.
"Some of his troops were there." Captain Toad continues, "And there was a giant pipe, where they were taking strange stuff out of."
"I see." The princess' mind races. After a few minutes, she recomposes herself, and then turns to the two Toads, a bit uptight. "Are they still there?"
"No, princess." The two Toads say simultaneously. General Toad continues, "They just left after we came by. Nice and tidy to my surprise."
Princess Peach relaxed a bit, and then gave a look of determination. "Well then. Let's go take a look at that pipe. You two, meet me at the castle entrance. Not a word of this to anyone else…yet. I need to have a little chat with my guardian."
Mario and Pauline walk along the East River together, viewing all the trees about to bloom. Then they stop by a pier to take in the view of all the boats passing through. As the two lean over the rail, Mario looks over to Pauline. Her burgundy hair and spring pink dress blow in the gentle breeze coming off the river, the sun shines off her smooth skin, and he watches as she takes a deep breath.
"It's so much nicer today." She beams as she turns to Mario.
He pulls his red cap over his eyes, blushing. "Y-Yes, it is."
Pauline gives off a little giggle, causing Mario to blush even more. "Oh, Mario! Relax a little more! It's certainly not every day that both of us have the whole day off."
"I know. I'm-a saving every moment of this day." He looks up toward the East River. "It was-a over a week ago that those crazy creatures invaded this place. And yet look how nice it looks already!"
"You wouldn't expect any less from the Wrecking Crew, Corp. They tore everything worn down to the ground, and reconstructed almost just as quickly. I wonder how they do it?"
"Well, I bet my brother will know. He's applying for the job as we speak."
"Wait, Luigi isn't going to be a plumber anymore, with you?"
"Oh no. He said that with all the 'plumbing' we did for Brooklyn, cleaning out all the nasty critters, he needs a short reprieve from all that. So he's-a trying something a bit different for a while. And I'm-a sure he'll make it into the Wrecking Crew, Corp just fine. With all the fixing up they still need to do within the city, they're-a going to need every helping hand they can get."
"Then what about you?"
"Well, I'm-a still a plumber through and through! However, after the big commemorative celebration the mayor gave my bro and I, we're-a both getting some compensation for our free work. So technically, I don't have to work for a month or so. Regardless," Mario props himself higher on the pier railing, "if a pipe gets a bit wound up, they clog 'em, I clear 'em!"
Pauline smirks a bit. "Well, nothing certainly stops our plucky resident hero."
Mario gets back down. "Plucky?" He taps his stomach. "I'll have you know this is-a lean, mean, muscly storage. In case I'll really need everything I've got."
She leans in a bit closer to Mario. "Mm-hm. And why don't you use that 'safe-keeping' for something like, I don't know, your height?"
"Oh this again." He says nonchalantly. "What I lack in height, I make up for with a spring in my step. Why, I'd like to see some big palooka try to beat me down to size!"
She laughs, "Of course, I should know. We grew up together. You, Luigi, me. We were a team back in the orphanage."
"And here we are." Mario leans in toward Pauline. "Full-time workers, with the world at our fingertips."
Pauline rests her head on top of Mario's. "If only this day could last forever."
Mario blushes a bit, and then also leans on Pauline's side, with his hand over hers on the railing. "Yeah, me too."
Toadsworth enters Peach's bedroom, as she sits patiently on her bedside.
"My word, princess! What seems to be the trouble? I heard that you'll be off on some important business."
"I am," Peach replies, "and I'm going to be leaving the safety of our capital..."
"What?" gasps Toadsworth. "Good heavens, what for?"
"…to infiltrate an operation by the Koopa Troop."
"WHAT?! N-N-No! You mustn't! The Toad Council, and I, have highly cautioned you from ever leaving the castle grounds, let alone outside the capital. Other than here and the town, we have little to no control over any other territory. We're struggling to keep what little of our kingdom afloat."
Peach looks down at her gloved hands. "You said that I am the best hope of protecting our kingdom, correct?"
Toadsworth calms down a bit. "Yes, princess."
"And when I become old enough, I will be ready to take the throne after my father, right?"
Peach's hands glow with a pink aura. "Then I'm ready."
"…but, princess, don't you think you're rushing into this too quickly?"
"I have no choice!" she shouts, standing straight up. She immediately calms herself down a bit, then continues, "We have no choice. The new Koopa King is amassing a new army, and it could be any day now that they march upon our doorstep. If another war is to come, we must be ready to act, not cower. Time is of the essence. And as for me, you've taken care of me well, Toadsworth, and helped me train to hold the mantle fit of a princess. Now more than ever, I must prove that I have earned that title." She walks toward the door, and then stops to face Toadsworth. "And for my first act as ruling princess, I will make the first move toward the Koopa Troop, and remind them just who they're about to deal with." And with that, she walks out of the room, and down the hall.
Toadsworth stands there, stunned, for several seconds. "Our little girl, all grown up…" Then he shakes his head and begins to frantically run after her. "Princess, wait! At least let me go with you!"
The next day, Mario is helping out a woman who hired him to fix a stubborn leak under her sink.
"And that should patch things up for a bit!" says Mario, "I'd say we let it settle together for about an hour before we continue."
"Alright" she replies, "Thanks again for coming!"
"All in a day's work, mam" he stands up, wiping his gloves clean with his towel, "Hey, do you mind if I borrow your phone? My brother might be on break, and I'd like to check up on him."
"No problem! Go right ahead."
Mario happy dials the number for the public phone by the construction site. To his relief, Luigi picks up the call.
"Hello?" says Luigi nervously.
"Oh, Luigi! Looks like you picked up the phone first."
"Hehe, yeah, I know some other construction crew members usually stand by the phone. Although given the circumstances, I guess they shifted me to some phone-sitting."
"So how is your new job? Is it at least giving you an ease of mind?"
Silence over the phone for a few seconds. "Look, everything is all right, for me at least. For a few other workers, though, they weren't so fortunate. Some guys fell through a floor board, others got knocked off by something. Just today, four guys were sent home already from injuries like that…" A yell comes over Luigi's end of the phone.
"Mamma mia! What was-a that?"
"Oh no, there goes another one! Sorry, bro, but it seems like I've got to go. We're a bit thinned out already."
"Oh, well, okay Weegee. Hope everything goes well for you over there."
"Thanks! See you tonight!"
Just as Mario hangs up the phone, there's a pounding sound at the front door. The woman hurries to open the door, a bit confused. Then she gasps, "Good heavens honey! What happened to you?!"
A burly man hobbles through the doorway, clasping his fully bandaged right leg. He curses as he drags the damaged leg all the way into the living room. After he finally sits down, he mutters, "Stupid ladder!"
Mario walks over to the living room to check on the man. He immediately notices his construction worker uniform, just barely fitting over his muscular body. The woman rushes from the kitchen with a couple of ice packs and hands them to her husband as she sits down beside him. "So what happened to your leg?" she asks.
"Rrgg! That damn ladder's what happened! I swear it was holding up properly before I climbed it. But before I knew it, three-fourths the ways up, it just buckles and falls right over! Landed on my good leg, too!"
"Excuse me, sir," starts Mario, "did you say that ladder buckled? Just like that?"
"Hell yeah, I said it! Only, the sudden clank-like sound it made didn't quite sound like the bending of metal. Some idiot must have hit it the wrong way…"
The husband starts ranting off on who did the deed, but at this point, Mario isn't listening. He begins to think about the number of accidents suddenly coming up. And why wasn't the foreman letting the public know of this yet?
"Something doesn't sound right," Mario ponders, "and perhaps…Luigi might be in danger! After I finish with this plumbing, I better head over to that construction site, for some hands-on investigating."
"So you got the demolition ready?"
"Almost. My soldiers are a bit clumsy. Couldn't we create some better workers out of anything else? Did we have to use eggplants and wrenches?"
"Hey, that's all you had for me in your office to make do with! You want better soldiers out of inanimate objects, get a fruit basket, or a chainsaw, or something."
"I don't know what your kind has for offices, but here, you wouldn't expect a foreman to have a fancy-shmancy office. Comes with the job."
"Speaking of jobs, how long until you'll be ready?"
"Heh! Tomorrow evening at best. I still got a reputation to maintain, you know!"
"Ha ha! Never thought you'd steep so low toward sabotage! I like that!"
It's the late afternoon when Mario arrives at the entrance to the construction site. A grated fence runs all around the site, and the skeletal frame of a few buildings is already towering above the complex. The construction workers are still clanking and hammering through their last hour of their shift. The grated gates are closed to the public, but Mario does spot someone sitting by the entrance behind a small folding table.
This man is very tall, but wearing an extremely large overcoat, which covers nearly his entire body, except for his legs. His face is also hidden behind an open newspaper he's holding in front of him. From what isn't covered, he wears a construction hard hat, white gloves, black jeans, and…pointed shoes.
Mario slowly approaches the strange man. "Excuse me, sir? I was wondering…"
"We got openings for the Wrecking Crew all the time." The weird man never even lowers his newspaper, but he does point his right finger down toward the table, where there are application papers and a pen. "Just enter the information the sheet wants to know, sign your name, and come here the next day...pronto."
Mario stands there dumbfounded for a second. "Okay…" Mario picks up the pen and scribbles down his name and necessary info. "That's really it?"
"You deaf? Blast this construction site's noisy machines! Anyway, welcome to the Wrecking Crew."
"Hm, that felt too easy…" Mario walks away from the table. "Well, thanks. I'll be here tomorrow."
As the plumber walks back to his apartment, the bizarre man peaks above his newspaper, making his pointed nose visible enough. "Wah, what a lame job this is! I don't know how my cuz got me into this…"