It is evening. Over a week since the Wrecking Crew incident. Mario and Luigi sit on their couch watching television, when the phone rings on the tabletop next to Mario. He picks up the phone without even leaving his eyes from the T.V. screen.
"Hello? Mario Brothers Plumbing…"
"Hi there, Mario!" answers Pauline on the other end.
Mario nearly drops the phone and bolts upright in his seat, startling Luigi. "Oh! Oh, hi Pauline! How are-a you doing?"
"I'm doing great here. Although if the message you left for me is any indication, I think I should be the one to ask you that question."
Mario laughs and blushes a bit. "Aw, thanks for your concern, but other than the closely averted, city-wide explosion, I'm-a totally fine…" Luigi coughs in his hand and gives him a look. "…and so is-a my brother."
"So after you, let me get this straight, fight off a foreman with an oversized mallet, an army of walking eggplants and wrenches, and a talking mouse with unlimited bombs…"
"Yep, that sounds right."
"…you got special benefits and gifts from the city, the key to the city from the mayor, and nation-wide attention as a hero to the United States?"
"I know, it's-a crazy, right? And recently, the Japanese ambassador came to meet with me, and told me how my popularity has spread over to Japan. I think they were thinking of making an anime, or something, based on me and my brother."
"Wow! With all this attention, you think you're going to be a plumber for much longer?"
Mario pauses for a moment. "I'm...not so sure." Another long pause. Luigi notices his brother getting a little glum.
"Oh. Well, hey, that's the first time you just spoke without that Italian accent of yours!"
"I hadn't noticed," he says, a bit more perked up now.
"Tell you what. I'm actually in Italy right now. News has actually spread about you over here. Anyway, as I was talking to others about you, someone mentioned that they knew about the orphanage you were in before you were transferred to America!"
Once again, Mario nearly drops the phone. "R-r-really?!"
"Geez, Mario," says Luigi, "get a grip, will ya?"
Pauline continues, "Some of the staff is still there, too, so I'm pretty sure they'll remember you."
"They can possibly find out where we were born? And who our parents are?"
"Who and where now?" says Luigi flabbergasted.
"Maybe," says Pauline, "and I got the address to the orphanage. So maybe, if you are interested and have time, you could fly over here to Rome, and I'll set up a date for you to meet the head manager of the orphanage."
Mario slowly brings a hand over the mouth piece of the phone, and turns to Luigi, who still stands there confused. "Hey Weegee," says Mario very calmly, "you interested in visiting Italy for a while, and possibly finding out the origins of our birth?"
Luigi blinks. The two stare at each other for several seconds.
"Hello? You guys still there?" says Pauline through the speaker, "What do guys think…"
"YES!" the brothers excitedly shout through the phone simultaneously.
While Princess Peach is talking to the Toad Council about the upcoming battle, Toadsworth sneaks by the council room, and down into the basement area. After entering the room with the Power Star, he walks over to a corner of the room. He looks behind him to make sure nobody's behind him. He taps his cane on specific bricks on the wall. Then a small square section of wall opens. He ducks his head and goes through the small opening.
On the other side of the opening is a tiny, dark room, with a small altar. Toadsworth lights a candle on the altar. The room is still dimly lit, as if the darkness is keeping a strong grip around the candle. He stands in from of the altar, and closes his eyes. A few seconds later, a purplish swirl surrounds the tiny flame. And then…
"The mists of consciousness parts," says a voice in Toadsworth's mind, "and a familiar face emerges."
"I hope I am not interrupting your thoughts," says Toadsworth through his mind.
"Nonsense," says the voice, "my consciousness is as open to you as it is to everyone and all. Now, what troubles you?"
"Our kingdom is at the edge of war. The princess has done everything she can to keep her subjects together and to gather enough resources together to strengthen our defenses."
"But, I fear it may not be enough. She was too young to even remember the great Mushroom War like I have. She's still so young now to take up the mantle of commander in chief. I…I just…" Toadsworth sheds a tear, "don't want any harm to come to her."
"You have done all you can, old friend. But sadly, I cannot help much."
"Please! I beg of you. I have done everything you suggested in the past. And I worry that those promises you made may not come to pass…"
"I am sorry. Truly, I am. But you are still unenlightened."
"I know. Forgive my outburst; I should not have spoken so harshly of you."
"However, there is some good news I can give you."
"I'll take anything at this point."
"At around the time of greatest need, there are two foreign young heroes that will come to this world, and can save the Mushroom Kingdom."
"I do not know how precisely. Only when. But they are nearing age. And their powers are growing. They will be the greatest heroes the Mushroom Kingdom will probably ever know."
"I hope you are right in the end, dear friend."
"And I wish your kingdom the best of luck. And that is all?"
"That is all."
"And now I go."
The purplish swirl flickers out, and Toadsworth opens his eyes. He wipes his eyes before blowing out the candle.
Weeks later, the Lufthansa flight touches down in Rome, Italy. Mario and Luigi depart from the plane, dressed in regular clothing, and wait for their luggage to come down the conveyor belt.
"I'm-a so excited!" says Mario, "I can hardly wait to visit our first orphanage!"
"Me neither!" says Luigi, "But I am a little nervous."
"Well, at least we can brush up on our Italian."
"I, uh, might be a bit rusty."
"Then how about you let me do the talking. You can at least understand what they're-a saying, right?"
"Yeah, I think so."
Once they get their suitcases, the two head outside the airport entrance. Pauline stands nearby, waiting for them by a cab. She waves at them to get their attention.
"Mario! Luigi! So good to see you guys again!" she says as they come over to her.
"I'm glad to see you too!" says Mario, blushing a little.
"Not so loud with our names, though, please," Luigi says to her, "we don't really want that much attention drawn to us before we finish our main business."
"Oh, of course," she says, "well, I rented this cab that will take us to the orphanage, and then your hotel, so it won't be much longer now."
The three of them gleefully enter the cab, leaving their luggage in the trunk. The cab drives through Rome, passing by major landmarks like the Coliseum and the Pantheon. After about an hour of driving through traffic, they finally arrive at the orphanage, near the outskirts of Rome.
The three enter the orphanage. The brothers are nearly brought to tears at the amazement that they're standing in their first known home. Then the manager walks over to them from the customer assistance desk.
"Mario! Luigi! Buongiorno!" says the man.
"Buongiorno!" replies Mario, "Che piacere vederti!"
"Salve!" Luigi replies as well.
Pauline simply smiles and waves. Mario and the manager continue to talk to each other in Italian, while Luigi and Pauline stand just off to the side, listening in.
"Are you able to understand Italian?" Pauline asks Luigi.
"Mostly," he replies, "Thank goodness my brother knows more than I do, and can speak it, too."
"Could you tell me what they are saying?"
"Sure. The manager asked if we were all right from the time difference we have to endure from the flight over, but fortunately, we slept during the whole flight. The manager has heard about our recent rise to fame, and is very pleased at how we have grown up. He remembers how Mario was like a parrot, mimicking many Italian words."
"Which would explain how Mario got that Italian accent. What about you, what were you like here?"
The manager so happens to say a few words in Italian to Luigi, to which Luigi grows a bit bashful. Then Luigi turns his attention back to Pauline. "He says that I was a shy baby, hiding in the shadows."
Pauline gives a funny look. Then the manager turns so that he's equally facing all three of them. "Excuse me, mam, for keeping you, how do you say it, out of the fold. I can speak some English."
"It's okay," she says courteously, "and your English isn't so bad, I might add."
Mario was about to speak in Italian again, but then clears his throat. "So now that everyone has their undivided attention, could you please tell us if you know who sent us up for adoption?"
The brothers look to the manager longingly. He rubs his eyes before he continues. "To that, you'll have to excuse me. My staff and I tried looking for your files everywhere this past week. We could find everything we know about you since you arrived, but everything before you came…nothing. No last name, no precise date-of-birth, no birth place, and no known parents. Your blood samples can't even trace any of your heritage, or possible family members. I'm sorry, Mario, but according to what we have, you and your brother seem to have come out of nowhere."
Mario and Luigi heave a great sigh. Regardless, the three of them thank the manager for their time and efforts, and then walk out of the orphanage. The brothers take one last look up to the orphanage, and then sigh again. Pauline looks at the crestfallen brothers, then walks behind them and puts an arm over each of them.
"Okay, so your past is still somewhat in the dark," consoles Pauline, "but we can move on, right?"
Mario and Luigi still keep their heads down, but still listen on.
"You may not know your family, but you two still have each other. And you have a home back in New York. And you have more fame and fortune that any Joe the Plumber would dream of."
Mario and Luigi look at each other. They each crack a smile, then Mario leaps onto his feet.
"You know, you're right!" exclaims Mario.
"Yeah!" says Luigi, "Together, we can do anything!"
"Pave the way for others to inspire and follow." Mario turns to Pauline. "Thank you, Pauline."
"Anytime," says Pauline. "Now, how about we continue this vacation in Italy, while I'm still around?"
"Lead the way!" says Luigi, and the three of them venture into Rome.
Weeks later, dawn breaks. Princess Peach looks over her castle balcony. She can see all of Toad Town, and a little beyond the town borders until the grassy, hilly horizon. Toadsworth comes up beside her right, while a royal guard Toad stays by her left.
"Have they come yet?" asks Toadsworth.
"Not yet," says Peach. The three of them stand in silence and watch the sun slowly rise at the horizon.
"It's so peaceful" comments the royal guard Toad.
"The calm before the storm, I'm afraid" sighs Toadsworth.
Then Peach is taken aback. "They're here!" she exclaims quietly.
Sure enough, the horizon is dotted across with soldiers of the Koopa Troop, mainly consisting of Goombas and Koopa Troopas. Bowser stands at the center of the front lines, his silhouette blocking out a portion of the sun. For a while, the Koopa Troop just stands there at the top of the hills. Bowser gets one good look at Peach's Castle.
"Soon, the capitol will fall, and the Mushroom Kingdom will belong to the Koopas!" he grins to himself. Then he lets out a blood-curling roar. The sun shines around his silhouette, as if glowing off his bearing strength. The Koopa Troop charges down the mountain, and toward Toad Town and the castle. Peach grips the railing for a moment, getting a good read on the enemies coming forth.
"Send the word to General Toad," Peach says to the royal guard Toad without taking her gaze off the Koopa Troop. "Prepare all hands on defenses. Arm all willing and able citizens. It has begun!"