Frantic Over Fritol

By Lemmy Koopa

It was a sunny day (not in Dark Land of course), so Roy had his team outside practicing for the big game. They were playing Fritol, a relatively new game. In Fritol, teams of five players each have to toss around a ball and keep it in the air for as long as possible without any player ever holding the ball. This may sound boring, but it can become quite intense, and as the game lags on agility and cleverness become apparent.

Roy was beginning to fret. His team was in no shape to win the game. How the Koopa team had even got to the finals, he had no idea. Now it looked like they would be squelched by… what team were they up against? Toad's Tiny Champs… this loss would make them a laughingstock.

"Iggy! Keep punching that bag!" Roy shouted. Iggy was the weakest member of the team; after the game went on for a while, his strength would fail him and he wouldn't be able to heave the ball with any kind of accuracy. Then Roy remembered why they had won the other games: Ludwig had rigged the court to rock toward their advantage. That wouldn't be possible this time; the league judges were not to announce where the next game was to be held. Instead, both teams would be flown to the stadium the day of the game, and the match would begin immediately after their arrival.

Someone tapped Roy on the back. He whirled around and spotted Morton, who had somehow escaped from his gaze. "This team looks good, terrific, we're gonna win for sure! I know the pep-talk I gave today rose team morale to new heights, higher than a rocket can go, higher than the tallest high thing you can think of, and now we'll win, and I told them they can look forward to interesting enthralling discussion alike to this during the match. Teams need to do something for fun other than just hit the ball, because that's boring and no fun as I'm sure you'll agree. You do agree, right? Because everyone else says that…"

'Great,' Roy thought. 'Now probably none of them will play! I'm already short a player… and I refuse to forfeit! I'm going to have to call in a Charging Chuck or something.' "Ludwig!" he shouted, seeing that his older brother was in his laboratory nearby the court. "Why not try exercising your muscles instead of your mind? Minds," he said to himself, "what a precious thing to waste. Go ahead!"

Another tap came from behind and Roy growled in response. "What is it Morton?!" he snapped. But the voice that sounded in reply wasn't Morton's.

"I'm here to play, Roy," the voice that wasn't Morton said.

Startled, angry, and curious, Roy spun around so quickly to face the voice that the voice's owner's hair blew violently in the breeze he produced. "Get out of here, Susan!" he barked. "Get out… or my brothers and I will make sure you never get the chance to come back!"

Sure enough, Susan stood in front of Roy, outfitted to play. She stood tall and proud, despite Roy's threat. "Bowser said I could play," she answered coolly.

Roy let out a nasty laugh. "Bowser doesn't even know the rules! Look, I'm busy here. Get lost now and I won't bother to give you the pounding you deserve."

"Look!" Larry shouted from the court. "Roy's talking to Susan! I wonder what's going on!"

"None of your business!" Roy shouted back. He turned to Susan, expecting to see her leave, but she was standing her ground. "Well?"

Susan's lips curved into a tight smile. "You know you're short a player. You need five, and Lemmy's not playing any sports until Yoshi gets his ball out of that haunted house.

"What?!" Iggy squeaked. "Lemmy's our star player. We can't win without him!"

"Where have you been?" Ludwig asked, rolling his eyes as he exited the castle and moved toward the court. "Lemmy's refused to participate in sports for two years."

"See?" Susan asked smugly. "You can't play because you're coaching. You can take me or you can quit."

"I'll quit before I put you on the team!" Roy stomped. "Fritol is only for men, and even if you were a guy, which you certainly aren't, you're weaker even than Iggy!"

Behind Roy, Iggy was hit in the head by a ball shot at him by Morton. He fell to the ground whimpering.

"Suit yourself," Susan shrugged, seemingly backing down. "If you want to lose… it's all the same to me." As she said this, she picked up a Fritolball that had rolled near her and started keeping it in the air."

"I'm glad you see my point," Roy said, glad that this annoyance was over so that he could return to concentrating on his sad excuse for players. This he did, and was almost regretful of it. "Morton, you're not trying to knock out your opponents! Keep the ball in the air!"

"I'm getting tired of this," Larry huffed, dropping the ball he had been using for a while. "We're not going to win on Saturday, so there's no reason to bother."

"We are going to win!" Roy snapped. "Now get back to practicing!"

"Honestly, I ought not to have emerged from the castle," Ludwig chimed in. "Larry is correct… why not let this matter rest?"

The four players on the court slowly made their way back into the castle.

"Losers!" Roy shouted at them. But they were gone.

"You know," a mocking voice called, "there is someone who thinks this team can win."

Roy turned slowly this time. "Remind me to kill myself later. Fine, you can play with us, but only this once until I find a replacement, which I would do now but… I don't feel like it! You'd just better be here ready to play at 8 AM on Saturday."

"You can bet I'll be here!" Susan cheered. "But let me warn you! I think you'll be surprised…"


The rest of the week moved far too quickly for Roy and his Koopa Destroyers, who seemed to only get worse. Iggy was falling down more than ever, Morton didn't even seem able to smash the ball, Larry somehow kept missing the ball, and Ludwig had all but lost interest. As for Susan, she had never showed up for practice.

"Figures," Roy pouted, dwelling on that last point. "It's a good thing I'll have no trouble beating up those Toads… because it's the only way I'll be able to save face."

Roy was hoping he'd be able to find a fan that would masquerade as coach for him, so that he could be the fifth player. But, this might not be possible. And even if it was, he had the smashing problem that Morton had, but worse. Things were not looking good for the Koopa Destroyers.

The judges' doomship landed in front of Koopa Castle promptly at 8. Roy and his team boarded silently, expecting imminent defeat. The judges questioned Roy as to his lack of a player, but Roy told them he had things under control. The doomship took off.

Soon, they were there: a magnificent stadium the like of which Roy and his team had never seen. It was painted and designed beautifully, but Larry was caught up with the seat capacity. "I don't… know if I can perform in front of a crowd this large," he stammered.

Roy led his team in and made his way to their court. Across the way he could see Toad's team. He rubbed his eyes; were they really that small? Pathetic… this whole game was pathetic.

Ludwig came over. "Don't you suppose you ought to seek for your replacement?" he asked.

"Yeah…" Roy said, but his mind was elsewhere. Maybe he should have resigned after all. At least it would have been better than facing humiliation in front of a crowd this large.

Suddenly, a voice came from behind him. "I'm ready to play!"

"Oh, great!" Iggy said.

Roy spun around, anxiously seeking for his last hope, and there she stood. "Where were you?!" he demanded, trying to maintain his position.

"Oh, I wanted to surprise you," Susan answered off-handedly, "so I followed behind."

"Whatever," Roy almost smiled, then checked himself, "I just hope for your sake that you know how to play!"

"Trust me," Susan said. "I do."

"Say, what is this?!" Morton noticed Susan. "It's Susan! I hate her! She's stupid! What's she doing here? Let's get her! I want her dead! C'mon! I say we-"

"Shut up!" Roy screamed. "Susan will be playing with us," he admitted to four stares. "Well, I couldn't find any other replacements! She'll have to do. If we lose, then we get to beat her up."

Larry didn't look happy, but he smiled at the last part. "Susan is so dead."

"Don't be so sure," Susan warned. She turned to Roy. "Let's play!"

At that time, the judges came out to get the teams on the court. Roy sent his five players, and Toad sent his five. One judge blew his whistle… and the championship game of Fritol was underway.

The game started innocently enough at first. Players passed the ball around in a circle, occasionally breaking the pattern to cause some excitement. Morton talked to pass the time, but his other team members had all brought earmuffs, and the Toads were safely on the other side of the court.

Soon, though, the game became more frantic, as it always does when the players begin to get tired. One Toad knocked the ball to his partner, and then fell down, exhausted. The Koopa Destroyers were winning, but only for a minute because then a smash from Morton knocked Iggy down and out, and only a nice save by Susan, who was standing next to Morton, kept the ball in play and the game alive. Iggy struggled to get up, but couldn't.

And the worst had yet to come. Larry was running out of steam, and he finally sat down, putting his team a member behind. Morton, whose mouth was sore from all the talking, had to give up. Only Ludwig and Susan were left to pass the ball between each other. Finally, the overweight Ludwig could take no more. 'I… can't go on," he panted. "I'm… sorry."

With one more smack to the ball, Ludwig sat down. It seemed that the Koopa Destroyers were done… and then suddenly Susan turned on the juice. Unable to pass the ball to herself, she smashed the ball towards her fallen teammates, Ludwig first. Her smashes bounced off her teammates and back to her; thus, a legitimate pass.

Roy's eyes widened upon seeing this move, and they continued to widen when he saw her repeat this move several more times. "I don't believe it!" he gasped. "She's good!"

Susan was. Now she used more interesting moves like having the ball bounce of all her teammates before returning to her, or having the ball bounce off other objects besides the ground and then a teammate. But finally it was over. The last Toad had fallen.

"The winner!" a judge shouted. "The Koopa Destroyers!"

Roy could not believe it, not could his male teammates. In their stupor, Susan proudly accepted the trophy. "This trophy is for King Bowser," she said, "for being a great uncle." She paused. "And it's for Roy… for giving me a chance."

Later, the teams were leaving, and Susan found herself next to Roy. She seemed apologetic of forcing herself into the team, despite their resulting success. "Roy, I'm-"

"Don't talk to me!" a stern voice returned from a head facing away from Susan. There was a pause. "You showed what you can do… and I was impressed." Roy turned and flashed her a smile. "Would you like to officially join the team?"

Susan didn't say anything. Finally, she cried, "You bet I would!"

Roy turned back from her. "Good," he said. "Because only teammates can go to the victory party." He looked back at her. "Last one on the doomship is a rotten plumber!"

Susan laughed and rushed to catch up with Roy as he raced toward the doomship, the other team members watching curiously and with awe for the new star.

Artwork by Fried Rooster

The End

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