"Hey, T! Pass me the hammer!" X yelled as he continued to work on the fortress walls.
"Here ya go!" the other Bob-omb replied. The Bob-ombs resumed their work.
Soon, one of the guard Koopa Troopas came in. "Come on, put your backs into it!" he yelled. The Bob-ombs worked faster. The air rang with the sound of picks and hammers. "Is that the best you can do, wimps?" the Troopa shouted. "This fortress won't build itself, you know."
"Man," X said, "they've been working us like dogs lately." T just continued laying bricks. "Even the Koopa Bros. don't have the right to torture us like this."
"Well," T said, "maybe you should just stop complaining and work."
Five minutes later, the Koopa gaurd strolled back in. "Break time, ladies!" he shouted. The Bob-ombs sighed in relief. "But, I still haven't given you the good news," he calmly said. "Break time's been reduced to three minutes!" The Bob-ombs groaned in complaint. "Plus, I've been informed that the Koopa Bros. themselves are coming to see how you've all been doing!"
"Oh boy," X said. "The head honchos themselves are comin'." T just gathered up his bricks and started to work again. "What's up, T?" X asked.
"I don't know," he replied. "I just feel like working is our duty, not theirs. So, I just do it."
"Dude," X responded, "you sound depressed."
Suddenly, the doors burst open. Four Koopas, each wearing different-colored masks and gloves, strolled in. "Gasp! The Koopa Bros.!" one of the Bob-omb workers whispered.
The Koopa Bros. quietly stepped around the room, eyeing what the Bob-ombs had accomplished. The Bob-ombs nervously shivered in their presence.
The leader, Red, walked back to the front of the room. Bob-ombs stepped aside as he passed. "Well," he said, "at least you guys know who's boss. Us! And King Bowser, of course! Anyways, you've all got a new friend to help you!" A small, pink Bob-omb shyly stepped into the room. A Koopa shoved her in with the other bombs. "So," Red continued, "keep working! We expect to see double this amount of work next time we check!" With that, the Koopas left.
X slowly made his way towards the new Bob-omb. T followed. X helped the newcomer onto her feet. "Thanks," she said.
"Hi," X said, "I'm X. Plosiv, and this is my pal, T. N. Tee. What's your name?"
"Bombette," the female replied. "I was sent here for work. I had no idea it was as a slave."
X nodded. "It's been like this ever since those Koopas showed up. Why, if I ever got a chance, I'd show them a thing or two."
T chimed in, "Well, we don't have a chance, so let's just get back to work."
The Bob-ombs resumed their posts and worked on the fortress. They worked late into the night, and only got five hours of sleep. No breakfast, and hardly any lunch or dinner. And only several short breaks. It was horrible. All day long, the Koopa guards taunted them and worked them harder. Life was bad for the Bob-ombs. And if you didn't follow orders, it was prison or even death as the punishment.
Several days passed. Some of the Bob-ombs had already died of exhaustion. X, T, and Bombette just kept working. "I wonder if we'll ever see daylight again," X thought to himself. T just minded his own business.
"T sure is quiet," Bombette said when she and X were by themselves.
"Yeah," X replied, "he's real softspoken. I wonder why?" X walked up to T, who just continued to pour cement and lay bricks. "Hey, T, what's up?" X asked.
"Nothing," T said.
"Oh, come on," X continued, "what's wrong?"
"I said nothing!" T shouted.
"Gee, sorry," X said, returning to his work.
Suddenly, the doors swung open. A Sledge Brother plodded in.
"Who's he?" X asked another Bob-omb.
The Bob-omb replied, "That's Stomper, the new guard."
"What happened to the old one?" X asked.
"Koopa Bros. sent him away. He slacked off on his other patrol."
The Sledge Brother stomped towards them. "Quiet! I'm the new guard. You do what I tell you, just like the old guard. And you'd better do your work! Or you'll answer to me." With that, he plodded over to a corner and watched the Bob-ombs, who returned to their work.
"Hey," X said to the same Bob-omb, "I never got your name."
"Name's R. Tilery," the gruff old Bob-omb replied.
"I'm X," X said.
"Nice to meet ya, X. I gotta get back to my post."
X walked back over to where T and Bombette were working. "Who were you talking to?" Bombette asked.
"R. Tilery. He says the new guard's name is Stomper," X said.
"You!" Stomper shouted. "Get back to work!" X, T, and Bombette resumed their work.
A couple more days passed. The Bob-ombs continued to work, under the watchful eye of Stomper. Suddenly, a Bob-omb fell down of exhaustion. "Hey!" Stomper shouted. He stomped over to the Bob-omb and dragged it back onto its feet. "Rest for one minute, then back to work," he said. He then walked back to his post.
"Hey," X said, "did'ya see that? Maybe that guard's not too bad after all."
The Bob-ombs kept toiling at their posts. T started panting. Stomper saw him in the corner of his eye. "Alright," he said, "five minute break! Then, back to work!"
The Bob-ombs sighed and sat down. They whispered to themselves. "Wow, that guard's nicer than the old one!" some of them chatted. When the break was over, they all worked even harder, thinking their "nice guard" might reward them.
After several hours of work, X noticed T slowing down. "You okay, T?" he asked. Suddenly, T fainted. "Gasp! T!" X rushed over. Stomper looked to see what was the commotion, and quickly trodded over. He helped T onto his feet. After Stomper sent the Bob-omb to a corner for a two minute break, X tried to muster up as much courage as he could. "Um, Stomper, I mean sir, why do you go through all this trouble for us Bob-ombs?" X stuttered.
Stomper looked closely at him. "Why should I just let you die?" he replied.
"You seem a lot nicer than the other guards," X said.
"Well," Stomper said, "those guys just don't appreciate how important you guys are. In fact, I think you guys oughta teach them a lesson. You outnumber them two to one. Why not rise up against them? Or better yet, escape?"
X thought about this for a moment. "But wouldn't you be in trouble for that?" he said.
"I'd be willing to do my part," Stomper said. "You guys deserve freedom."
X pondered this, and then said, "You're right. It's time we blew this joint."
It was a sunny day in the Mushroom Kingdom. But for the Bob-ombs working in Koopa Bros. Fortress, the shining sun hardly brought any joy.
T. Entee, X. Plosiv, and Bombette were working very hard. Half of the fortress had already been finished, and the other half was under construction.
Under the watchful eye of Stomper, the Sledge Brother guard, the Bob-ombs toiled at their posts. But, unbeknownst to the owners of the fortress, the Koopa Bros., X and his friends were formulating a plan for their escape.
That night, while everyone else rested, X, T, Bombette, and Stomper were holding a meeting.
"I don't know how we're going to do it," X whispered, just loud enough for the others to hear, "I mean, getting three or four Bob-ombs out of here isn't that hard, but seventy-six?"
"How about we escape a couple at a time?" Bombette asked.
"No," Stomper said. "They'd catch on and raise their guard. We've got to take 'em by surprise."
"Well," T said, "I suggest we just get some sleep and wait for an opportunity to present itself."
But no opportunities did. For several more days the Bob-ombs worked. Some began losing their faith.
One week later, Stomper plodded over with bad news. "The Koopa Bros. are coming back for another inspection tomorrow," he said.
And, sure enough, they were there the next morning. They strode in, prideful looks on their faces. The Bob-ombs cowered in their presence. They surveyed the work the Bob-ombs had accomplished. The leader, Red, stepped forward. "You slaves are slacking off!" he said. "So, your workload has been doubled! We'll be back tomorrow, and we'd better see twice this much finished!" With that, they left. Stomper, keeping up with his role as guard, told the Bob-ombs to get back to work. He really felt sorry for them. They needed to escape. And soon.
The rest of the day went pretty hard for the Bob-ombs. Due to the added work, the little creatures were exasperated.
X and Bombette laid bricks, while T helped a group of other Bob-ombs hoist up several large, metal poles to create a small prison-like chamber.
"I need more bricks!" X shouted to Bombette.
"Sure thing!" she replied, wheeling over a wheelbarrow full of bricks. She then walked back to her post and resumed laying bricks.
The wall got higher and higher until she could barely reach. She reached as high as she could, but couldn't get to the top.
Suddenly, she accidentally dropped the brick. It landed with a thud on her foot. She yelled, drawing the attention of other Bob-ombs. One small one, who was working on carving a wall, stepped over and helped her.
"You oughta be careful, there," he said, helping Bombette over to a seat. He went to a small box and came back with a bandage.
"Thanks for your help," Bombette said. "What's your name?"
"Bruce," the Bob-omb said, locking Bombette's gaze.
"I'm Bombette," she said.
"Bombette," Bruce echoed. "What a lovely name." Bombette thanked him again for his help and they returned to work.
All day long, Bruce sat, staring at Bombette as she worked. X had seen what had happened and asked who the other Bob-omb was. Bombette explained and they resumed their work.
X kept an eye on Bruce and noticed that he seemed to always be slacking off, stopping to stare at Bombette once in a while.
All that day, Stomper had been moved to another part of the castle. A replacement guard had been selected, and he kept tabs on all the workers. He took notes on a small clipboard, and at the end of the day, was sent back. Stomper was then brought back in. He did a quick overview of the work, and then made sure everyone got to bed before dozing off himself.
The next morning came quickly. The Bob-ombs put a few finishing touches on the rooms before the Koopa Bros. arrived for their dreaded inspection.
Then the moment came. The metal doors at the entrance to the work chamber burst open, and the Koopa Bros. strolled in. With them was an entourage of Koopas, along with the surveyor from the previous day. Red Ninjakoopa, the leader of the Koopa Bros., inspected every nook and cranny of the newly completed fortress. He then stepped back to the front of the room.
"Well," he said, "I see you bob-ombs have finally finished our fortress. But, there was one teensy little problem."
At this point, Red snapped his fingers, and the Koopa surveyor stepped forth and handed his clipboard to him. Red quickly read over it, and then shouted, "Which one of you is named Bruce?" The Bob-omb stepped forward, quivering. "Well, Bruce," Red said menacingly, "according to my surveyor's notes, you've been slacking off instead of working." Red shoved the Bob-omb to the ground.
"Leave him alone!" Bombette shouted from within the crowd.
"Aw," Red snickered, "isn't this cute?" With that, he threw Bruce into a big pile of soot.
"I said stop!" Bombette yelled, leaping in front of Red, her fuse sparkling. She landed in his face and exploded with tremendous force.
Red screamed, his face charred and black. His brothers, Green, Black, and Yellow, were also burnt, but not as much as Red. He held his face in his hands while the Koopa guards rushed Bombette. X, T, Bruce, and Stomper stood with their mouths hanging open as the guards rushed Red to the medical room and Bombette to the dungeon.
"Oh no!" Bruce said. "This is all my fault!" The Bob-ombs backed away as the rest of the Koopa Bros. and their troops left. "Bombeeeeettttte!!!"
For the next few days, Red remained under critical care and attention from the fortress doctors. Black, the second oldest of the four brothers, issued that the Bob-ombs were to be forced to remain working, constantly tearing down and rebuilding different parts of the fortress.
Bruce was constantly wet with tears, always muttering to himself about how he was responsible for Bombette's imprisonment. He admitted to the others that he had a crush on Bombette, and could not help himself. X constantly tried to cheer him up, but it didn't help.
After several more days, Red was nursed back to health. And just in time, too. It was reported that Bowser had put his plan into action, kidnapped the princess, and squared off with Mario. However, Mario had been spotted in the Mushroom Kingdom, and all of Bowser's troops were on high alert.
Red again assumed command, and ordered that all the Koopas and Bob-ombs in the fortress be prepared to fight. Some Bob-ombs proved loyal to the Koopa Bros., but X, T, and Bruce refused to serve. Stomper still worked under the disguise of being a loyal guard. However, the Koopa Bros. had begun to notice that some Bob-ombs seemed to be building resistance, but decided to ignore that for now.
Soon, the news came. Mario had defeated the Goomba King, and was on his way to Koopa Bros. Fortress. The Koopa Bros. themselves were preoccupied with preparing for battle, and X saw it as the perfect chance to escape.
"Alright, guys," X said, "this is it. We're going to escape." It was midnight, and everyone in the fortress was asleep. Everyone, that is, except for X. Plosiv, T. Entee, Bruce, and Stomper. They and a handful of others were the only troops, except for those who had resisted and wound up in the dungeon, who were disloyal to the Koopa Bros.
Since escape had been on his mind since the beginning, X had a plan all laid out. He had investigated the entire fortress for weak points, and had discovered a perfect route with which to escape. However, some of the guards had night shift, and it was going to be risky. X devised a strategy that required them to split into groups. X, T, and one of X's friends named R. Tilery made up Team A. Bruce, Stomper, and a handful of other disloyal Bob-ombs made up Team B.
"Okay," R said, "here's the plan that me and X have come up with." R laid out a map of the fortress. He pointed to a spot on the map that was marked where a guard was. "Stomper, you are gonna act like a guard and fool this Koopa into thinking you're his replacement and that he can go get some rest. Then, you and the rest of Team B sneak up to this door. Wait for Team A to cut off the power, and then enter the room. Gather some rope and meet me and the rest of Team A on the roof."
With that, R rolled up the map and X stepped forward. "Okay, anybody have any questions?" No one did. "Then let's do it!" X said. Everyone raised their fists and gave a silent cheer.
Stomper plodded along in the darkness. At every room he passed, he checked to make sure everyone was sleeping.
He came to a stop behind a corner in front of a door where a guard was patrolling. Stomper looked back and gave a hand signal. From the shadows, he saw the same hand signal repeated. The rest of Team B was still there.
Stomper pleasantly strolled over to where the guard was patrolling. "Hey," the guard whispered, "what are you doing here?"
Stomper quickly remembered his lines. "I'm here on orders to relieve you of your post," he said.
"Phew," the guard replied. "Finally. I'm bushed. I'm shoving off. Have a good patrol." The guard walked away to a room and entered, closing the door behind him.
Stomper waited a few seconds, listening to the guard shuffling around in his room. Finally he heard a bed creak and then the sound of snoring. Stomper gave another hand signal, and the other members of Team B tiptoed up towards him.
R. Tilery crept along in the darkness. X and T followed, each carrying rubber gloves and wire cutters. They were careful to make sure all of the guards were asleep.
They quietly tiptoed up to a large door. They stopped and listened for any sign of a guard in the next room. After hearing a few seconds of quiet, they slowly opened the door.
However, there was a guard, sitting asleep in a chair. As soon as he heard the door creak open, he popped awake. "Hey," the Koopa said, hopping out of his chair, "why aren't you Bob-ombs asleep?"
X and T struggled to think up a lie, but couldn't. However, R just calmly stated, "We got reports of a power outage in room 419. We're just doin' a little check-up on the electrical system before headin' to bed." X and T stared in amazement at R's brilliant little lie.
Surprisingly, the Koopa appeared to be buying it. "Well," he said, "the electrical switchboard's in the next room. Oh, and here, you'll need these keys to get in." The Koopa sat down and went back to sleep. R and the other Bob-ombs then headed for the electrical room.
"Dude!" X whispered to R when they were inside the utility room "Where do you come up with this stuff?"
"I used to be an agent in the secret service," R said. "Had to think up little strategies like that all the time."
They found the switchboard, a big black box on the wall at the back of the small room. R flipped it open and put on the rubber gloves. X handed him the wire cutters as T scanned a schematic that showed which wires controlled what. "Cut the big red wire leading to switch #500," T read. R got the wire cutters into position and cut.
Stomper stood, watching a small overhead light. Suddenly, it flickered out. "That's the signal," Bruce said. Stomper opened the door and entered a long, dark hall. He felt his way along the walls until his hand brushed across a doorknob. He slowly opened the door and stepped into the darkness.
A young Koopa guard lay in bed, reading a Koopa Times magazine. Suddenly, his reading lamp gave a flicker and then went out altogether. "What the?" The Koopa hopped out of bed and grabbed his flashlight.
Stomper quietly tiptoed around the dark room. If R's maps were correct, this had to be the supply room. He tripped loudly over something lying on the floor. He landed with a loud thud! "Oops," he whispered.
The Koopa guard trotted along with his flashlight. What was that? He saw something moving about in the darkness. "Hey, you!" he whispered. The other creature stepped into the light. It was another Koopa. "What are you doing?" he said.
The other Koopa replied, "I'm investigating the power failure."
"Me too," the first one said. "Wait a minute, what was that?"
"What was what?"
"I heard a noise. It sounds like it's comin' from the supply room!"
The two Koopas split ways. The one with the flashlight headed for the electrical utility room, while the other one stumbled along in the darkness towards the supply room.
Stomper got back onto his feet and began searching around the room for some rope. The rest of Team B helped. Suddenly, they heard a creaking noise. Someone was opening the door!
T replaced the schematics on the shelf where he had found them. R and X stuffed away the wire cutters into an old toolbox and put their rubber gloves in the trash. Suddenly, they saw light coming from down the hall. Someone was coming!
Stomper could barely make out the outline of a Koopa in the darkness. He stumbled around, searching for something, anything that he could use against the Koopa. Suddenly, he remembered. He was a Sledge Brother! He reached into his shell and pulled out three large, stone sledge hammers. With the greatest of skill, he tossed them high into the air. They all struck their target, head-on. Thunk, thunk, thunk! The Koopa slumped to the floor, unconscious.
Meanwhile, Bruce and the other Bob-ombs had been searching for rope. Bruce felt something long and skinny brush against his leg. "Aaahhh! Snake!" he yelled. One of the other Bob-ombs covered his mouth and picked up the rope that was lying on the ground.
X, T, and R could tell it was a Koopa approaching, holding a flashlight. If they didn't hide, they'd surely be caught. So hide they did.
The Koopa slowly approached. He shone his flashlight in every direction. He then saw the door to the utility room lying open. He walked into the room and saw that the switchboard had been tampered with. Just as he was about to call out for back-up, T pushed against the shelf he was hiding behind. The Koopa saw it teeter above him. Just as he was about to run out of the way, T gave one final shove, and the shelf toppled over.
"Hurry," X said, he and R already heading out the door. T scampered over and they headed for the fire escape leading to the roof.
Luckily for the Bob-ombs, the Koopa Bros. were heavy sleepers. However, the noise woke up some light-sleeping guards. They quickly headed for the utility room where they had heard the crashing noise, and saw what had happened. They quickly sounded the alarm, and hundreds of Koopa guards awoke. They filled the fortress, searching high and low for the Bob-ombs. It was now or never.
Team A had heard the alarm sound, and quickly began climbing up the fire escape. However, several Koopas were following them. There was soon too much weight on the flimsy stairs. They gave a loud creak, and then broke. The Bob-ombs quickly grabbed hold of the railing and hung on for their lives. The lower half of the stairs fell away, taking several Koopas with it. The metal stairs rocked precariously. The Bob-ombs began carefully climbing the twisted structure, three Koopas following.
"Where are they?" Stomper said, waiting on the roof for Team A. Suddenly, he heard the alarm sound, and the doors to the roof burst open. A large group of Koopas stormed onto the roof, some carrying handheld Bullet Bill Blasters. They quickly opened fire. Booms filled the night air as swarms of Bullet Bills were launched from their cannons. Most of them missed the Bob-ombs.
The Koopas fired a second wave, this time with a little more aim. The Bob-ombs ducked, and the bullets missed. However, Stomper was the easiest target. He was struck full on the chest and fell to the ground. "Nooo!" Bruce yelled, "Stomper!!!"
The other Bob-ombs threw one end of the rope to the ground. Bruce held the other end as one Bob-omb at a time slid down the rope. Now all he had to do was wait for Team A.
R reached the top first. He helped X and T up and then kicked the last bit of railing connected to the building away. The Koopas screamed as the stairs carried them down to the ground.
"Whoa!" X yelled as a Bullet Bill zipped past him. The Bob-ombs looked behind them to see a swarm of Koopa Troopas firing at Team B. When X saw Stomper lying on the ground, tears came. The other Bob-ombs helped him over to Bruce, who was holding the rope. X, T, and R slid down. When they reached the ground safely, Bruce threw the rope down and jumped. The other Bob-ombs caught him safely and they began running.
"Cease fire!" a Koopa yelled. They headed back into the building and reported to the Koopa Bros. about what had happened. They were furious.
Yellow suggested that they follow the Bob-ombs, but there was no time. Mario was on his way, and everyone needed to be at their posts. "I never suspected a rebellion," Red said.
The Bob-ombs ran as fast as they could, fearing that the Koopas could already be on their tails. They headed for the nearest village, a place filled with peace-loving Koopas. Surely they would understand and take them in.
And they did. X, T, R, and Bruce took a few moments to grieve over Stomper and Bombette, and later told the Koopas all that had happened. The Koopas had pity for them and immediately provided shelter. Everyone slept better that night, knowing they were finally free. They had escaped.
The next morning, X. Plosiv and T. Entee awoke, feeling fresh. They headed outside and sat down next to a small stream on the outskirts of Koopa Village. They enjoyed the peace and tranquility.
X looked to the horizon and saw a black silhouette standing against the sky. Strange. Koopa Bros. Fortress didn't look so big and menacing from here. But what was that? Could it be? X saw the outline of a large figure slowly advancing towards them. Soon, X saw what it was. Yes! It was! Stomper!
X nudged T and pointed towards the Sledge Brother that was heading towards them. T's mouth hung open as he saw their old friend. He was alive!
Stomper kept trudging along, trying to reach the nearest village. Suddenly, he saw two Bob-ombs waving to him in the distance. X and T! He thought for sure the Bob-ombs had been caught. But they hadn't! Stomper took off in a jog, then a sprint. By the time he reached his friends, he was out of breath. They leapt with joy and laughed.
X and T led Stomper back to the village. When Bruce and the other Bob-ombs saw their "dead" friend returning, they nearly fainted. Everyone smiled as the Bob-ombs introduced Stomper to the Koopas.
After everyone was acquainted, Stomper was sent to a Koopa doctor who treated the wound on his chest. Soon, he was healthy again. He then told everyone how he made it to the village.
"Well," Stomper began, "after I was hit, I fell unconscious. The Koopas thought I was dead, and saw no sense in keeping a dead body. They threw me over the side, over the lake fortunately. The cold water revived me and I swam to shore. From there, I just walked in a random direction. I soon came to a path, which I followed here."
During the next few days, Mario reached Koopa Bros. Fortress. He defeated the notorious villains, and released all of the imprisoned Bob-ombs. After traveling a ways as one of Mario's partners, Bombette was reunited with her friends in Koopa Village. They have lived there ever since.
Bruce never gave up his crush on Bombette, and is still obsessed with her. R. Tilery is retired, but yearns to be part of the action again. He dreams of returning to the secret service. Stomper became a stuntman, and gained a reputation as being the best at gun scenes. Bombette became well-known as having been one of Mario's partners. T. Entee became a writer (a hidden talent he never knew he had), and is famous for his suspense stories. X. Plosiv is head of Bob-omb matters in Koopa Village.
They are all still friends, and even though some of them travel a lot, they always schedule a reunion each year in Koopa Village.
They all will never forget the time when they met each other. And especially not the time when they escaped.
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