"Sir," it said formally, "there's a visitor here requesting to speak to you, and he says It's urgent."
Bowser was so disgusted by the interruption
that he could have incinerated the turtle on the spot. "Send it in,"
thundered Bowser, in a tone that very clearly said "and don't show your
miserable face in my presence
The creature that walked in at that moment was something Bowser could never have imagined would show up on his doorstep. It was a Koopa with black scales and a black shell. His spikes and chestplate were white, and to top off his penguin-like coloration he wore a black bowtie. He bore a strong resemblance to Ludwig in the face, and had long black hair the shape of Ludwig's, but unlike Ludwig's his hair was neatly parted into to distinct billows. He wore an all-to-cheerful-for-a-Koopa expression on his face, and he just absolutely looked like he didn't belong where he was.
"Announcing," said the Terra Cotta guard, "Prince Jazzman Koopa of the Koopa Clan O'gla."
Bowser rubbed his chin for a moment. "O'gla, you say?" he asked, addressing Jazzman, "I've never heard of the O'gla Clan."
"We're a small clan, that doesn't surprise me," Jazzman said.
"Where is your castle located, Prince?" Bowser interrogated further.
"In the East," replied Jazzman after a moment's hesitation, "near Dinoland."
"And... who is your leader?" Bowser continued with his bombardment of questions.
Jazzman paused a moment, and answered, "My father, Lord Grax, Emperor of Greater Dinoland, Champion of-"
"Thank you," Bowser interrupted, "then I'll be brief. Why are you here?"
Jazzman cleared his throat and began, "I am here at the wish of my father to request in the name of-"
Bowser waved an uninterested claw. "Skip the formalities," he groaned, "I can't stand people who take twenty minutes to say they stopped in to say hello!"
Jazzman breathed a sigh of relief. "Yo, that's just swingin' daddy-o. Whew, I felt like a real square talkin' like that. Sheesh! Anyway..."
Bowser looked at the turtle guard, who just looked back, confused. Bowser began to wonder if the formalities wouldn't have been preferable.
"I'm here," Jazzman continued, "'cause we cats back at O'gla have this little exchange program. Y'know, one of those you-give-us-one-of-your-people-and-we-give-ya-one-of-ours deals. Anyway, my point is set an extra seat at the table, 'cause I'll be coming to dinner for a while. Wadd'ya say, daddy-o?"
Bowser blinked his eyes blankly. "Could you run that past me again in plain Koopish?"
Jazzman sighed. "Im movin' in, and one of your kids is movin' out," he summarized. "Not for good," he quickly added, "just for... oh, say a year or so. They'll be livin' with the O'glas. Ah, for that matter, ya don't even have to send anyone, I'll just move in."
Bowser tapped his claws on the arm of his throne and thought about this for a moment. "Very well, I see nothing wrong with that." His demeanor suddenly lightened. "Well, Jazzman, welcome to the clan of Morton. I'll have a guard give you a tour of the castle while your bags are being carried to your room."
Jazzman shook his head. "No sweat," he replied, "all I packed was this." He snapped his fingers and a black case appeared at his feet. He bent and opened it, revealing a saxophone. He grinned as he saw Bowser's reaction. "I'm a music man, you see." With that he closed the case and shoved it into the arms of the Terra Cotta. "Take that to my room, won't ya? Swingin'!"
"I see," mused Bowser, "you and Ludwig will get along just fine. Well, guard," and at the snap of Bowser's fingers a Goomba stepped out of the shadows, "show our guest the castle." And so the turtle left with Jazzman's sax, and the Goomba left with Jazzman.
When everyone was gone, Bowser narrowed his eyes. "This kid can't think I'm just going to take him into my house at the drop of a hat. I'll have to locate this Grax and check out the boy's story." His face darkened further. "And I know I've heard the name Jazzman somewhere before..."
Later that night, Jazzman sat in his newly assigned chamber pondering what to do next. He knew his mission, and he knew it wasn't going to be an easy one. However, that could wait. Right now he was just grateful Bowser had bought his story about the exchange program. As he thought back on it, he couldn't help but chuckle, it was such a ridiculous lie. For that matter, he couldn't believe Bowser had accepted the news of a clan he had never heard of. Of course, he couldn't have heard of it, because Jazzman had made it up. There was no O'gla clan, no Grax, and Jazzman had never known there was a greater or lesser part of Dinoland.
Jazzman had only been honest about one thing, he WAS from Dinoland. He was left for dead on Yoshi's Island as an infant by Bowser and Clawdia. The reason was that Jazzman was one of a set of twins, and twins were considered a terrible omen in the Koopa race. To try to avert disaster, the Koopas had abandoned one child and raised the other, never telling anyone that there had been another child. If not for the kindness of the Yoshi clan, Jazzman would have died.
Jazzman was raised knowing only part of his name, Jazzman von K. He was told that he had been found on a beach in a basket with this name written on it. All his life, Jazzman had believed this. But somehow he had always known he was different from the others on the island. One day Jazzman got up the courage to ask his adopted parents, a pair of green Yoshis, why he was the only one on the island with a shell. However, they were reluctant to answer. Finally, the Yoshies told him that he was a Koopa, a race who hated the Yoshies terribly, and this was what the K in his name stood for. They begged him never to seek out his parents, and he had agreed. But secretly he vowed to learn the whole truth about his past.
It had taken a year of snooping
through old documents from the Mushroom Kingdom to learn of a mysterious
twin brother to King Bowser's eldest son, Ludwig von Koopa, who was abandoned
and presumed dead. This document seemed to date back to about the time
Jazzman was found. Also, when Jazzman looked
up this Ludwig, all he found was a picture of a Koopa who looked a lot like himself. Jazzman had decided right then that he would find this Ludwig and his family, and unite them with the people who raised him. So he came up with a cover story, took off toward Koopa Castle, and here he was.
A knock at the door brought Jazzman out of his reverie. "C'mon in," Jazzman called. The door opened and the person who knocked stepped in. Jazzman looked up to see...
... But it couldn't be!!!!
"Hi," said the whatever-it-was, "the name's Karma. Are you this Jazzman I've heard about?"
"Uh, y... yeah," Jazzman stuttered, "that's me. Who... I mean, are you a-"
Karma rolled her eyes. "Yes," she sighed, "I'm a hybrid: half Yoshi, and half Koopa."
Jazzman nodded. "I... didn't think-"
"Ya didn't think that could happen." Karma interrupted, and then explained. "My parents Met. You do know what Meeting is, right?"
"Yeah, yeah," Jazzman replied, "sure I do. But, between two species that hate each other, I mean, that's pretty wild."
Karma sighed again, and answered, "Well, I've had my own share of weird Meetings."
"Whaddaya mean?" Jazzman prodded.
"I'm Met with one of Bowser's sons," Karma said grinning, "and he hates my guts!"
"Ya mean Bowser, or your Met?" Jazzman continued.
"Both," Karma answered matter-of-factly. "Well," she added, her face darkening, "now that you know my deep dark secret, what's yours?"
Jazzman nearly fell out of his chair as he stammered, "W... whaddaya mean by that?"
Karma cracked a slight smile as she answered, "Ya might be able to put one over on Bowser, but not me. Ya see, I lived in Dinoland most of my life, and I know there's no O'gla clan, no Grax, and no Greater Dinoland. So, what's your real story?" At Jazzman's undecided look she added, "C'mon, ya think I'm gonna tell Bowser? Get real!"
Jazzman nodded, seeing no other choice than to explain. "I should've known when I saw ya that you knew Dinoland pretty well," he began, "Well, anyway, can you keep somethin' real big under your hat?"
"Your secret's safe." Karma reassured him.
"Swingin'," Jazzman sighed and launched into his tale of being abandoned and raised by Yoshies, what a revelation it was to him when he learned his true identity, to which Karma had to laugh, and his resolve to unite his family with his adopted people. "I was already startin' to think it couldn't happen, the way that guard talked when I brought up the cats back on Yoshies Island," he said as an afterthought, "but if you're here, I guess that proves it can."
"Well, If you want to bring these people together, ya know whatcha gotta do first?" Karma inquired after a pause.
"What? What?" Jazzman begged, bouncing with excitement.
"Let me whisper it in your ear," Karma replied, "it's a secret." She leaned over toward Jazzman's ear and whispered, "Kid, comb your hair!"
Karma got out the door just in time to avoid the pillow Jazzman threw at her.
The next morning found Jazzman pacing the floor of his chamber, thinking about the events of the previous day. He had a renewed sense of hope as he thought of Karma, living proof that Yoshies and Koopas didn't have to hate each other.
"If they can Meet, then they can get along with each other too," he thought out loud, "The problem is how'm I supposed to tell those cats that?"
Once again his thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the door.
"C'mon in." he called, trying to keep the aggravation out of his voice. His invitation was unnecessary, however, because before he finished saying it the door opened and Karma stepped in. This time she wasn't alone though. With her was... Jazzman gasped as he beheld the face of a Koopa who simply had to be Ludwig von Koopa.
"Hey, kid," Karma greeted, "after
our chat last night, I decided to introduce you to someone who's a lot
like you," she emphasized the next phrase, "in a lot of ways!" She looked
at Jazzman to see if he understood.
Clearly he did, so she introduced the Koopa twins to each other. "Jazzman, this is Kooky. Kooky," she paused, "this is Jazzman von Koopa."
Ludwig's jaw nearly sank through the floor as he heard this. "V... von," he stammered, "b... but that's-"
"That's your middle name," Karma interrupted, "I know. Jazzman, why don't you explain?"
Jazzman couldn't help but think this was a little too soon, but he didn't have any choice now. "Well, hey, Ludwig," he began, "I guess you ought to know the reason we have the same middle name. Y'see-"
"I'm very familiar with the justification for two individuals in the Koopa race to be identified by the same middle name," Ludwig interrupted, "But... but..." he searched for the most diplomatic way to say what he was thinking, "But I can't POSSIBLY HAVE A TWIN! It simply is not logically... logical!"
Karma knew Ludwig had to be taking this hard, because he was using words people could understand. Maybe this wasn't such a great idea she thought as she tried to calm Ludwig down. "Look, Kooky," she said as soothingly as she could, "this isn't a bad thing."
"Not a bad thing?" Ludwig snapped back, "Karma, do you know how terrible an omen this is?"
That was too much for Karma. "Oh, get over it!" she snapped, "I thought a Koopa who put so much stock in science would have better sense than to buy in to all that omen junk! Besides, isn't it supposed to be a bad omen to Meet outside your bloodline? And nothing's happened because we Met. Kooky, use your head for something besides a giant blue Chia pet for once!"
Jazzman decided now was a good time
to intervene. "Hey, look," he said, "I know this is hard to accept, but...
Well, Ludwig, I'm your twin brother,"
he paused to wait for Ludwig's reaction.
"But how?" began Ludwig, "I mean, if I really did have a twin, then why... why..."
"Why didn't your parents tell you?"
Jazzman finished the sentence, "Because like you said, it's supposed to
be an omen. They didn't want anybody to know, because it'd cause a panic!
So, to keep that from happening they left me on Yoshi's Island. If those
cats back at Yoshi's Island hadn't felt
sorry for me I would've died!"
Ludwig was completely silent for a while as the news finally began to sink in. "You do bear a striking physical resemblance to me," he conceded, "perhaps there is a possibility that the narrative you have just imparted to me is truthful. However the interrogative that remains unanswered is simply this: how did you come to hypothesize that you were a twin, and that your counterpart resided in this establishment?"
"My first clue, daddy-o, was that I was the only swinger on Yoshi's Isle with one o' these." Jazzman answered, pointing to his shell. "When I went to ask the cats who adopted me about that, they told me the whole story. At least, they told me what they knew. I had to snoop for myself before I found out about you, and Bowser and Clawdia's mysterious twins. So when I found you, I decided I'd drop in and say hey."
Ludwig nodded, and countered, "Then what was or is your motivation for coming here, disregarding the notion that you merely 'dropped in to say hey'? I find it hard to accept that you would compromise your existence simply to greet an entity whom you theorized was your twin brother."
Jazzman was about to explain when
he heard a thunderous voice from the doorway shout, "Halt! Surrender immediately
or you will be fired upon, creature!" Jazzman, Karma, and Ludwig all looked
up to see Bowser standing at the door surrounded by Sledge Brothers armed
with Bullet Bill cannons. All three stood, dumbfounded, as Bowser stepped
forward with a smaller cannon pointed at Jazzman's chest. "So," he began
with a malicious tone in his voice, "you thought you could fool me, did
you? You thought I wouldn't
recognize you, did you? Well, let me correct you, twin. I know exactly who you are, I know exactly where you are really from, and I couldn't care less what your reasons were for coming here!" He grabbed Jazzman and threw him in front of the platoon of Sledge Brothers. "And now," he hissed, "I'm going to finish what I started by abandoning you on Yoshi's Island! Take him away!" The Sledge Brothers then dragged Jazzman away to the public execution grounds.
Karma was frantic. "Ludwig," she gasped, "what are we going to do?"
Ludwig looked up toward the departing group, then turned to Karma. "We're going to follow them!" he said with a conviction that surprised both Karma and himself. And with that, they ran after Bowser and his group.
"Bowser," Clawdia pleaded, "you can't do this. It's just not right!"
"And what would you have me do," Bowser snapped back, "let this thing invade my house?"
"That thing," Clawdia screamed, "is your son, just as Ludwig is!"
"She's right, daddy-o," Jazzman chimed in, "I'm-"
"You'll have time for last words later," Bowser cut him off, "if I decide that it should be so!" Moments later, they reached the execution ground. Bowser's eyes were filled with rage as he hurled Jazzman in front of the Sledge Brothers. "Ready," he shouted and the guards raised their cannons. "aim," and they pointed them at Jazzman's heart.
"NO!" shouted Karma, rushing onto the execution ground and throwing herself in front of Jazzman.
Bowser paused for a moment and shrugged. "Just as well," he murmured, "FIRE!"
But the Sledge Brothers didn't fire. As Bowser looked to see why they had not yet carried out his order, he saw to his horror that Ludwig, his eldest son, was standing in front of Karma and Jazzman.
"Ludwig," Bowser snarled, "get out of the way!" But Ludwig didn't budge. "Ludwig," Bowser growled through gritted teeth, "don't think for a minute that risking your life is going to save them this time." Ludwig stood fast. Bowser was practically pleading as he said, "Ludwig, you are my eldest son, my pride and joy, my heir! But if you don't move I will be forced to kill you with them!"
"Then that, dear father," replied Ludwig with resolve, "is what you must do."
Bowser's hands were clenched in fists of rage as he bellowed, "So be it! Ready," the guards raised their weapons again, "aim," they pointed them at the three condemned Koopas. But just as Bowser was about to issue the fatal command, Clawdia did something Bowser could never have predicted: she stepped in front of Ludwig.
"I gave this child up to die once before," she explained as everyone gasped, "I'm not about to do it again."
Bowser froze. He knew what Koopa law demanded in this situation, but something at the bottom of his blackened and twisted heart wouldn't allow him to have his wife, two sons, and daughter-in-law all executed. Bowser made a sound that was a mix of a defeated sigh and an enraged roar as he ordered his soldiers to lower their weapons and return to their posts.
Ludwig, Jazzman, Karma, and Clawdia all stood silently for a moment. Finally, Clawdia broke the silence by asking, "Is everyone alright?"
"I am well," answered Ludwig.
"I'm fine," replied Karma.
"Everything's swingin'," Jazzman responded, causing laughs from the others. "There's just one thing. Why was ol' Bowser jumpin' so hard to get rid of me?"
"He doesn't accept change easily, dear," replied Clawdia. She looked into Jazzman's face and her eyes filled up with tears. "Oh, son," she sobbed, throwing her arms around Jazzman's neck, "I'm so sorry. I knew I shouldn't have left you there, but I... I-"
"Don't worry 'bout it," consoled Jazzman as he wrenched himself free of Clawdia's almost smothering embrace, "everything's swingin'."
Later on, as Karma and Ludwig were walking up the stairs to Ludwig's room, Karma laced her fingers through Ludwig's and said, "You know, that was the second time you've risked your life to save me. You're gonna have a real hard time saying you still don't like me."
Ludwig racked his brain for the response he needed. "I don't like you a bit," he stated after a moment, "but I love you."
Karma's smile faded and she clenched her fists, ready to give Ludwig a severe pounding. "Could you explain that one to me, Kooky?" she asked.
"Not if my very existence depended on it," came the reply, "because I don't comprehend it myself. All I understand is this. When we're together, we wish for nothing more than to be away from each other," his voice softened a bit before he added, "but when we're away from each other, I find myself longing to see your face again, or hear your voice." Having said that he pulled Karma toward him and kissed her passionately.
Karma's smile returned as she whispered, "So that's why you risked your life for me."
"No," Ludwig corrected, "that is only part of the reason."
"So, what's the other part?" Karma asked.
"Because losing you or my brother would be unbearable," Ludwig replied, "but losing both of you... well, that would be incomprehensible!" He thought for a moment, and asked, "And as our conversation is already on this topic, what convinced you that his story was true and that he really was my twin?"
Karma grinned as she whispered, "It's a secret." Ludwig leaned his ear toward her, so she whispered into it, "Ya both have the same mop on top of your heads!" With that she ran her hand quickly through Ludwig's hair, pulling it over his eyes, and rushed up the stairs with Ludwig chasing.
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