“Lord Fortinbras,” announced Hinopio, “we’re now in video-communication range of Seaside.”
“External camera,” Fortinbras ordered, “maximum magnification. Show me what’s happening.” Instantly the viewing screen at the front of Archangel’s bridge displayed the battered carriers of the Easton Air Force and their assailant, a ship with the same configuration as Archangel. “What in the Heaven’s name is that thing?” Fortinbras gawked as he slowly rose from his seat.
As a stunned silence fell over the bridge at the sight of the Archangel doppleganger, it was Hinopio who turned to Lord Fortinbras with a suggestion. “Sir, I recommend we keep our distance. We can’t save the fleet, and even though it looks like Archangel, that ship seems to have us outgunned, judging from the length of time it’s taken to cripple the carriers. We should call for reinforcements from the Chai Air Force.”
Fortinrbas took his eyes off the viewscreen to look in shock at Hinopio. “And what’s the reason for this course of action, Commander?”
“Sir,” Hinopio answered, “I lived inside Barrel Volcano for years, and you can’t live long inside an active volcano without developing a sixth sense about no-win scenarios. I’m telling you, we should fall back.”
“Negative,” replied Fortinbras. “We’re going in, and we’re going in at full attack speed.”
“Sir,” insisted Hinopio, “without reinforcements we-”
“There won’t be any reinforcements, Commander!” Barked Fortinbras. “By the time they get here, this will be over. Increase speed and attack. Comm, order escorts to assume flanking positions.”
Hinopio swallowed hard to keep from questioning the order. He knew arguing with Fortinbras was pointless. “Increasing speed, sir,” he announced grudgingly.
“Guildmaster,” called the Sledge Brother at Fallen Angel’s radar station, “Archangel is entering weapons range.”
“Is she now?” Kamek gloated. “Well, well, what an unexpected pleasure. Plot an attack course.”
“Course laid in, Guildmaster.”
“Breaker beams,” Kamek shook with glee as he spoke, “target her bridge. It’s time to take out Fortinbras once and for all. Order gunner decks to maintain fire on what’s left of the carrier fleet.” Kamek paused to savor his impending victory. “Today I, Kamek, will go down in history as the greatest Koopa hero since Warlord Monstro.”
“Captain,” declared a joyous radar operator on the Hero’s Glory, “another ship just entered Seaside airspace. It’s the Archangel: the real one!”
“Fortinbras,” Luigi muttered, “I never thought I’d be glad to see you. Flight Control, have the pilots on leave returned yet?”
“Yes sir, they have,” reported the Flight Control chief, “but most of their fighters have been destroyed.”
Luigi slammed his fist down on a nearby control panel. “What’s the status of the carrier fleet?”
“One hundred twenty carriers have been sunk, sir,” answered the First Officer, “and three more are going down. Sadly, sir, we’re in the best shape of anything in the harbor.”
“How many fighters are still flight capable?” Luigi demanded.
“Difficult to say, sir, but I’d guess not more than twenty.”
“Twenty,” Luigi spat, “out of the entire fleet.” He glanced out the forward window at the enemy vessel, now locked in combat with Archangel and her three escorts. Suddenly, a thought struck him. “Wait a minute,” he whispered to himself, “you’re one of the Mario Brothers. You’ve brought down Imperial Doomships with nothing but a Fire Flower.” That was that then, he decided. He knew what he had to do. “Commander,” he said sternly, “you have the bridge.”
“I’m leaving,” Luigi replied, “and the bridge is yours.” And with that he turned to leave for the flight deck.
“But sir, where are you going?”
Luigi looked over his shoulder to answer, “I’m going to that ship.” The First Officer didn’t get to ask any further questions, because by this time Luigi was outside the bridge.
“Comm,” said Fortinbras through gritted teeth as the enemy mockery of his command vessel swung around for another attack run, “order escorts to draw her fire.”
“I’ve tried, sir,” answered Raz from the communications station, “but the hostile’s not breaking away. She’s got her sights set hard on us, Milord.”
“Well,” Fortinbras muttered, “we can’t outrun her, we can’t outmaneuver her, and we surely can’t outgun her, so we’ll have to outsmart her captain. Helm, point our bough toward that thing. All ahead full!”
“Yes sir,” replied Hinopio worriedly as he laid in the collision course.”
“All decks, brace for impact: forward,” Fortinbras announced over the intercom.
The bridge crew clenched their fists tightly around whatever they could find to cling to as the two ships flew closer to each other. “She’s not breaking away, sir,” Hinopio noted.
“I can see that,” Fortinbras replied. “Maintain course.”
No one on the bridge dared to ask what Fortinbras was planning. In truth, he didn’t know, but his desperate act proved effective, because at the moment when impact seemed unavoidable, the enemy ship turned its nose hard starboard and flew past the Archangel.
“Starboard cannon decks,” Fortinbras shouted, “open fire!”
Moments later, Archangel’s nemesis was assailed with hundreds of shots from the Archangel’s P.O.P. cannons.
“Yes!” Fortinbras leapt from his chair as he watched the enemy vessel rock from the beating it had taken. “Aft flame throwers, target her propellors. Comm, open a channel to that thing.” Fortinbras straightened his uniform as he smugly finished, “I want to discuss terms of her surrender.”
“Surrender?” came a chilling, all-too-familiar voice from the air all around the bridge. “Fortinbras, m’boy, I think not.”
Fortinbras clenched his fists until they bled as he recognized the voice. “Kamek,” he snarled, “you’re on that monstrosity.”
“You don’t miss a thing, do you?” came the sarcastic reply. “Ooooooh, Fortinbras, I do wish this didn’t have to blow you out of the sky so quickly; I’m rather enjoying this. But all good things must come to an end.”
“Sir,” reported Raz, “she’s coming around again,” his eyes widened in horror as he checked his readings again, “and she’s charging a plasma cannon.”
“And now,” Kamek taunted, “witness the downfall of the mighty Archangel at the hands of my prize, the Fallen Angel.”
“E...evasive maneuvers,” Fortinbras stammered.
Hinopio only shook his head. “We can’t avoid it, sir.”
Fortinbras shouted every curse he could think of in every language he knew as he gave an order that turned his stomach. “All hands, abandon ship.”
“Alright,” Luigi muttered as climbed into the cockpit of one of the Sky Pop Class fighters carried by Hero’s Glory, “Mario flew one of these, so I guess I can too.” With a quick glance over his shoulder to ensure that Fallen Angel would allow him a safe takeoff, Luigi closed the cockpit, flipped the ignition switches, pointed the fighter’s nose toward the end of the deck...
... and randomly reached for the first
button he could find that looked promising. “This may not be as easy as
I thought,” he muttered as the craft’s propellors began to snarl to life
and the fighter began to move.
Nervously, Luigi pulled back the throttle and the craft began to ascend. “I hope I’m doing this right,” he thought as he neared the end of the Flight Deck, “because if I’m not, there’s nothing in front of me but a whole lot of water and wrecked ships.” Finally, Luigi was rewarded with the sound of silence from the fighter’s wheels as they left the deck and receded into the craft’s underbelly.
Luigi breathed a sigh of relief as the view of the carrier fleet faded beneath him. “Now,” he snarled as he turned toward the last place he had seen Fallen Angel, “to remind this Koopa scum why they haven’t won the war yet.”
“All hands are away,” reported Archangel’s First Officer to Fortinbras. “We’re the last two.”
“Good,” said Fortinbras in resigned defiance. “Take your parachute and get off this thing.”
The first officer looked at Fortinbras in shock. “What about you, sir?”
“I’m not leaving,” Fortinbras answered as he took his usual seat at the command station.
“What do you mean, sir? You can’t stay here.”
“Yes I can, Commander,” Fortinbras sighed as he looked out the window at the apparent conqueror, Fallen Angel. “There’s an old saying that the Captain goes down with the ship, and my ship is going down.”
“But sir, that’s ridiculous. What good will it do, anyway? Sarasaland needs you.”
Fotinbras chuckled at the irony of the statement. He chuckled because it was what he had once believed. “No,” he muttered as he thought of his arch-rival, Luigi. “Sarasaland has the hero it needs already.”
“I’ll remember you said that, Fortinbras,” came Luigi’s voice over the air-to-air radio, “when we BOTH get out of this.”
Fortinbras leapt from his seat to the communications post in a single bound. “Luigi,” he gasped, “what are you doing in the air?”
“Taking down that contraption,” Luigi replied, “or my last name isn’t Mario. But I can’t do it from the outside, and I could use a little help getting onboard.”
Fortinbras glanced over his shoulder at the weapons station to find his grinning first officer there. “Main weapons ready,” the first officer reported, “and our escorts are still standing by.”
Fortinbras paused for only a moment, but it was long enough for Fallen Angel to unleash a blast from its plasma cannon, rocking the Archangel. That, and the fact that he had one final, desperate plan drew Fortinbras’s attention back to his station. “Red Angels, listen carefully,” he announced over the radio, “check your emergency eject systems.”
All three pilots reported that their systems were fine.
“Well then,” Fortinbras continued, “this is the plan. At my signal, you’re going to fly, one after the other, into the top of that ship as hard as you can, and bail at the last possible minute.”
“The purpose being?” demanded the first pilot incredulously.
“The purpose being to blow a hole in the hull big enough for Luigi to jump through from his fighter,” Fortinbras answered. “Aside from that, you should do considerable damage to her dorsal propellors. Are there any questions?”
The reply was silence.
“Well then, Red Angels,” Fortinbras snarled savagely, “It’s time to bring Judgment down on the Koopas.”
“What’s the status of the Archangel?” Kamek inquired with deranged zest.
“Her crew is bailing,” reported the Captain of Kamek’s Guard. “Shall we stop firing on them, Guildmaster?”
“No,” Kamek answered ruefully, “no. Continue bombardment of the Archangel. I want those soldiers to go back to Sarasaland scared out of their wits with first-hand accounts of Archangel’s destruction. We’ve taken the air, and now we will take their spirits.”
“Guildmaster,” commented the radar operator, “one of Archangel’s escorts is making a run at us.”
“They’re no threat,” Kamek dismissed the notion. “Order cannon decks to take them down if they get the chance, but our biggest catch is Archangel herself.”
“Guildmaster,” the operator reaffirmed his concern after a moment, “one of the fighters is coming straight at us, and quickly. In fact, it’s...” The Sledge Brother’s eyes widened as he turned his gaze toward the front window to find that his suspicion was indeed correct. “All hands, brace for impact: Dorsal,” he called over the intercom without waiting for Kamek’s authorization.
Before Kamek could question this, the ship rolled end-over-end three times over and smoke filled the bridge. “REPORT!” Kamek demanded through the chaos that had befallen the bridge.
“It was a suicide run, Guildmaster,” reported the radar operator in disgust. “The hull has been breached on the starboard dorsal side, and we just lost the Forward and Starboard propellors and three of our starboard cannons.”
“Fortinbras, you son-of-a-Goomba,” Kamek grimaced. “You tried to ram me, and you failed, so now you order your escorts to do it.”
“Guildmaster,” screamed the terrified radar operator, “there’s another one coming in!”
“Impossible,” Kamek gasped. Yet, even as Kamek denied the event, the second of Archangel’s escorts plowed into the side of the Fallen Angel, narrowly missing the hole created by the first impact and breaking to pieces as the fighter’s main body ricocheted across the ship’s upper armor and into the sea below.
“We got lucky that time, Guildmaster,” divulged the relieved radar operator. “One hit, one miss, but if they keep this up we may not be able to continue the assault.”
“We’re through running from Sky Pops,” Kamek insisted as he looked through the flames around him out the window at the last remaining escort.
“He missed the target, sir,” reported the First Officer of Archangel. “Minimal damage.”
“Blast it,” Fortinbras cursed. “Luigi, you may have to make do with that if the third run fails.”
“I’m not sure I’ll survive jumping into all that,” Luigi retorted. “My flight path would be right through their cannons’ lines of sight.”
“Well, we have one more...” Fortinbras was cut off by an explosion from the floor beneath his feet. Looking back, he saw his First Officer scrambling back to his post to check the stability readings of the warship. “Sir,” he informed Fortinbras, “the engines are running too hot. If we don’t land this ship soon, we’ll blow ourselves up. We won’t need Kamek’s help!”
“Luigi,” Fortinbras relayed this information to his hated champion, “you’re about to be on your own.”
“I heard,” Luigi replied. “Get out of here, Fort. Save yourself and your ship, and leave Kamek to me.”
Fortinbras didn’t reply. Somehow, He still couldn’t force himself to wish Luigi well. So, he simply gave his final order before leaping to the helm and bringing the massive ship down in the first open area he could find: “Angel 3, engage.”
“Alright, Captain,” the third pilot echoed Fortinbras’ instructions to Luigi, “I’m going in.”
“Call me Luigi,” Luigi replied, “and if you’re going, you’d better do it now. They’ve lost interest in the big fish and they’re gunning for us now.”
“Alright, here I go,” announced the third pilot. “Final eject check...” This was followed by silence.
“It’s jammed. Hold on, let me check it again.”
“Listen,” Luigi said firmly, “if you can’t eject, get out of the way. I’ll go in myself.”
“Emergency eject systems down,” answered the pilot formally.
“Abort,” ordered Luigi.
“Negative,” argued the pilot. “You’ll never get in there unless I take out a few of those cannons. I’m going in.”
“Angel 3,” Luigi said again, “abort. That’s an order.”
“I can’t do that, Luigi,” replied the pilot as he sped toward the hole in the side of Fallen Angel at full speed. “This is gonna be a day the Koopas won’t soon forget, Luigi, because the last angel is about to sound his trumpet.”
Before Luigi could reply, there was a deafening explosion from the Starboard wing of Fallen Angel.
“The third pilot’s coming in fast, Guildmaster,” the words came from the radar operator of Fallen Angel. “We can’t hit him.”
“Brace for impact.” Kamek sounded more annoyed than worried. As soon as the order left his mouth there was a deafening roar as the starboard cannon array exploded, taking all their ammunition with them, as well as the starboard wing. “So much for using Booster’s marvelous new weapons,” Kamek growled. “Status of Archangel?”
“She’s down, Guildmaster.”
“And the carrier fleet?”
“Crippled. We’ve accomplished our task, Guildmaster. We should leave.”
Kamek chewed on his lip as he considered this. “Yes, they’ll call for reinforcements. Set course for Booster Hill, mach 5.”
“Aye sir,” answered the helmsman, overjoyed to be leaving in one piece, such as that piece was.
“Guildmaster,” reported the internal security officer this time, “you won’t believe this, but we have an intruder in the starboard weapons bay.”
Kamek slowly rose. “What?”
“It seems the fourth pilot landed on-board when he ejected, Guildmaster. What’s more is it seems that was his intention.”
“Activate the Firebars, quickly,” Kamek gasped as he stepped toward the internal security station cautiously. “How the Devil could anyone be that stupid?”
“Hey hammerhead!” Luigi’s shout got the attention of the Sledge-Brother-on-duty just in time for him to know what hit him as Luigi’s feet connected with the Koopa’s face. Reeling from the impact, the Sledge Brother dropped his hammer, his only weapon. “Oooh, man,” Luigi chided his foe, “that can’t be good.” The latter was proven true as Luigi vaulted into the air and came down squarely on the Koopa’s shoulders, knocking him off balance enough that he staggered forward and fell through the now-gaping hole where the ship’s starboard wing had been. “There,” Luigi congratulated himself as he watched his enemy fall into the vast air below the airship. “That’s how a Mario Brother does things.”
Luigi’s celebration proved short-lived, however, as alarms sounded all over the ship. “Uh oh,” he thought. “They know I’m here.” A crackling sound behind Luigi told him to duck, and he did just in time to see a string of flaming orbs, held together by magic, swing across where his head had been a moment before. “That was close,” he whispered as he looked around to make sure no other surprises awaited him.
Slowly and cautiously Luigi rose. With a final look over his shoulder to ensure that the Sledge Brother wasn’t somehow climbing back aboard the ship, he sneaked out the door and into the starboard access hall. “Wait,” he thought as he reached the door and looked back at the hammer dropped by the Sledge Brother. “That might be useful.” Without another moment’s hesitation, Luigi picked up the hammer and took to the halls on his way to the bridge, dodging Firebars as he went.
“Report, Kamek,” Bowser’s bloodcurdling voice reverberated off of the bridge walls as he called to Kamek across the vast distance between them.
“The mission was primarily a success, Sovereign,” Kamek informed him. “The Easton Wing was completely annihilated. Archangel wasn’t destroyed, but she was crippled. It would seem Booster’s new weapons are every bit as powerful as he boasts them to be.”
“And as to Booster’s connections with Ludwig?”
“As far as I can tell, sire, Boostercorp has no connections to Baron Von Koopa except their business dealings.”
“Excellent,” Bowser gloated. “When you next see Booster, inform him that his business with the Koopa Empire will be with me from now on.”
“As you wish, sire,” Kamek agreed. “And, Milord, what of Fallen Angel?”
“She’s yours,” Bowser waved the issue off. “She’s a tough ship for her size, but she’s no Doomship. I’m giving her to you and the Magikoopa’s guild.”
“Thank you, Lord Bowser,” Kamek said with a slight bow of his head.
“Well, if there’s nothing else, I’ll see you when you return to the Keep. Bowser out.”
When Bowser’s voice faded completely, the Captain of Kamek’s guard stepped up beside the Guildmaster and whispered, “You didn’t report the intruder, Guildmaster.”
“Indeed,” Kamek agreed. “There’s no need to trouble Lord Bowser with that until we have something to report.”
“Whoa! Low doorway,” Luigi exclaimed
as he ducked underneath a Firebar just in time to keep it from catching
him dead in the face. “Didn’t see that one. I’d almost think Kamek doesn’t
want me here.” With that statement, he continued his mad dash toward the
bridge door, now less than forty feet away. “Let’s see,” he mumbled, “I
don’t see any Firebars except the ones on the walls, and timing them shouldn’t
be tough. The question,” he thought aloud as he jumped over a Firebar swinging
clockwise from his left and ducked under
an opposite bar just beyond it, “is how to get through that door once I get there.”
Just as Luigi reached the door, the answer presented itself in the form of a detail of three Sledge Brothers scrambling out the door in search of the intruder.
“Hiya, boys!” Luigi’s shout, as well as his presence in the hall in the first place, disoriented the Sledge Brothers enough for him to bound over the head of the first one in line, landing on the head of the second and knocking him out cold. As the remaining two both swung their sledgehammers at Luigi, he calmly ducked, and each guard’s weapon connected with the other’s face.
“What in the name of...” Luigi heard Kamek’s croaking old voice as he stood up and dashed onto the bridge, sledgehammer in-hand. However, rather than the expected screaming and swearing and shouts of ‘You! You’re the intruder? How did you get here’, Luigi was greeted by a bridge crew laughing so hard they were barely able to stand. “Luigi?!” panted a doubled-over Kamek, “Sarasaland let you in their military? Just when I thought they couldn’t get any dumber.” With a quick look at Luigi’s uncharacteristic gray uniform he added, “and do you have any idea how ridiculous you look? I mean, the sledgehammer is ludicrous enough, but those epaulettes...”
While Kamek continued his taunts, Luigi lunged at him and connected the sledgehammer with the side of the Guildmaster’s head, knocking him face-down on the floor in a daze.
“I should’ve seen that coming,” Kamek said matter-of-factly. “And you, Luigi, should’ve seen this!” Kamek rolled over onto his back and thrust his wand in Luigi’s direction, sending sizzling bolts of electricity through his body and causing him to drop the hammer. The bridge crew, however, were still in possession of their own, as Luigi soon found out the hard way. “Leave him!” Kamek commanded after a moment, and the Sledge Brothers backed away from Luigi as he lay, barely conscious on the floor. “I’ve been waiting for this for some time, Luigi,” he crowed as he ominously moved toward his fallen foe. “And now you, just like all others who dare oppose the might of Lord Bowser, will die.”
As Luigi turned his glazed-over eyes toward Kamek, the vindictive Magikoopa raised his wand above his head and began to laugh: only a smirk at first, but soon he began to cackle maniacally. As he laughed, the ball on the tip of his wand began to glow. This is it, thought Luigi. This is how it ends. In a moment he’ll unleash some horrific spell on me. “Daisy,” he closed his eyes and whispered, “I love you. I’m sorry I can’t come back to you, but I love you. You gave me a reason to fight, and a reason to live. You meant everything to me. I wish I had one more chance to tell you that.”
You’ll get that chance, Luigi. No words were spoken, no sound was heard, but the words were there. They were there just as clearly as if they had been written on the very minds of everyone on the bridge.
“Who’s there?” Kamek demanded of thin air as he diverted his attention away from Luigi. “Who are you? I command you, show yourself!”
If you insist, Kamek, came the reply, just as unspoken, and just as clear as the earlier interruption. Instantly, the bridge was bathed in blinding light. As the crew shielded their eyes from the light, it faded. When everyone’s eyes readjusted, only a tiny, shimmering speck remained hovering where Luigi had been a moment before, but Luigi himself was nowhere to be found. I warned you to leave him be, Kamek. You wouldn’t heed me, so now you will pay the price.
Before Kamek could question this he heard screams from his guards as the same blinding light that had engulfed the bridge began to radiate from them. Within moments, the light faded, as did their screams, and they were gone, save for the Captain of the Guards, who stood beside Kamek. “Wha... what?” Kamek stammered. “Where are they? What have you done to my guards?”
The light gave no reply. I’ll be watching, Kamek, it non-spoke and disappeared.
“Guildmaster,” whispered the terrified Sledge Brother beside Kamek, “what was that?”
Kamek crossed his arms and looked suspiciously around the room before responding. “It was nothing, Captain. Do you understand me? It was nothing. Leave it to me.” Before the Captain could reply, Kamek stalked off the bridge and down the hall to his cabin.
Luigi awoke hours later to find himself lying in the sand of a beach, staring up at the same brilliant speck of light he had seen before on Fallen Angel. “Wha... where?” he sputtered as his last memories came back to him. “How did I... I mean...”
Ah, you’re finally awake, Luigi perceived the unspoken greeting. It’s about time.
“That light,” Luigi murmured, “that voice... on the ship...” Finally, he sat upright and asked clearly, “Who are you?”
My name is unimportant, was the response. Besides, you don’t know me. Only know this: I’m never your enemy, and at present, your friend. So long as you continue to resist Bowser and Kamek, this will remain. Remember that, You-Who-Travel-the-Star-Road.
“Star Road,” Luigi whispered in awe, “then you’re a star spirit?”
Something like that, yes. But what I am isn’t important either. There is a popular saying in Sarasaland: ‘Angels and Archangels watch over the Four Princedoms.’ It refers to the Red Angel Wing and Archangel, but there is more truth to it. I don’t claim to be an angel, nor do any of my kind, but always remember that Sarasaland, and all who resist the enemies of peace, are being watched from above. Farewell, hero of Sarasaland.
As the light faded from view, Luigi began to drift in and out of consciousness. When he finally came to his full senses, he found Fortinbras looking down at him, calling his name.
“Luigi? Luigi, do you hear me?”
“Fortinbras?” Luigi groaned as he tried to sit back up.
“Whoa, whoa,” Fortinbras said firmly. “Easy there, you’ve had quite an ordeal from the look of things. What exactly happened to you?”
Luigi paused, attempting to remember the answer to that. “Well, I don’t know. I was on the Bridge of Fallen Angel, having the crud beaten out of me by Sledge Brothers, then there was this weird light, and that’s the last thing I remember.”
“Well, whatever you did on Fallen Angel, it worked. She’s crashed into Booster Pass, and even Koopa Engineer battalions will have a hard time patching her up. My question is how exactly did you get here, anyway? Fallen Angel was flying as hard as she could on one wing in the opposite direction.”
“I’m not really sure,” Luigi replied honestly. “Come to think of it, I’m not even sure where ‘here’ is.”
“You’re on the beach of Seaside,” Fortinbras explained, pointing his hand out over the sea “just outside the port. See, you can see the Chai Wing arriving right now.”
Luigi looked in the direction Fortinbras pointed and saw the steam funnels of the Chai Air Force’s carrier fleet sailing into Seaside Harbor, docking right alongside the wrecks of the Easton Wing. “They’re a little late,” Luigi chuckled darkly. Suddenly, a new worry struck him. “What about Archangel?”
“She took a beating,” Fortinbras admitted, pointing toward a now frozen hill roughly a half-mile inland from where he and Luigi sat, “but she’s salvageable. And,” he added, as if forcing himself to find something positive about the situation, “from the state of the hill, we know that the liquid nitrogen cannon works.”
“Yeah,” Luigi agreed, “I guess we do.”
The two men sat in awkward silence for a moment before Fortinbras looked toward Luigi. “Listen, Luigi,” he said in his all-business voice, “I know you didn’t expect to hear this from me. Frankly, it’s hard for me to believe I’m saying it, but thank you. If it weren’t for you, the day would probably have turned out a lot worse.”
Luigi’s jaw dropped as he stared at Fortinbras, scarcely able to believe what he had just heard. Apparently, Fortinbras noticed, because his expression hardened again. “It doesn’t mean my opinion of you has risen one bit. Now see if you can stand up so I can get you to the infirmary to be patched up.”
“Before that,” Luigi interrupted, “there’s one thing I want to take care of.”
“I volunteered for a temporary commission in this navy, only to command this fleet until they got to Seaside. Well, that mission is over, and I’m still needed in Toad Town to go with Peach and Mario to Monstro City. With your permission, I’d just love to be relieved of commission and discharged.”
“Gladly,” Fortinbras said, quite relieved. “The sooner I can be rid of you, the better. Captain,” he thumped his chest with his fist in a halfhearted Sarasi salute, “you’re hereby relieved of commission and discharged from the Sarasi Navy.”
“I stand relieved,” Luigi sighed and returned the salute. “So now,” he said as he slowly rose to his feet, “I guess I can get rid of this uniform.” He looked with distaste at the shoulder epaulettes and snarled, “starting with these blasted things!” With that, he ripped them from his shoulderboards and followed Fortinbras to the town, dreaming with each step of being able to throw off the uncomfortable uniform and replace it with his familiar blue shirt and green overalls.
Kamek was furious. Victory over one of the Mario Brothers had been within his grasp, and he’d lost him. He lost him, all because of an unwelcome interference by an old acquaintance. Well, he thought grimly as he stormed into his deserted cabin and sealed the door behind him, now was the time to set things straight with the same acquaintance.
“I THOUGHT WE HAD A DEAL, GUARDIAN!”
he roared at the thin air around
If blackmailing me is what you call a deal, yes. I agreed not to interfere in your affairs. I haven’t broken that deal. In fact, you should thank me. I stopped someone else from interfering with them. At this reply, the all-to-familiar speck of light appeared in front of Kamek.
“What’s the matter, Guardian?” Kamek gibed. “Are you so afraid of a mortal wizard that you won’t even take on corporeal form?”
Very well, very well. Just to shut
you up. As Kamek perceived this response the light began to flicker
until it was a blazing strobe, forcing Kamek to shield his eyes yet again.
When the light faded, a figure with a
body that seemed to Kamek to be made of wood and clad in a tattered blue cape
and matching pointed hat stood in front of him.
“A wooden doll?” Kamek sneered. “Is that the best you can do?”
“It’s something I once indwelt,” replied the Guardian, finally in an audible voice. “Besides, I rather like this form.” He stepped toward Kamek until he was directly in his face and looked straight down at him before sarcastically explaining, “It’s taller than you.”
“I’m quaking with fear, as you can see,” Kamek quipped. “You’re playing a dangerous game, Guardian, meddling in things that don’t concern you.”
“All things, concern me, you mortal fool.”
“Temper, temper, Guardian,” Kamek prodded, waving his wand dangerously in front of him.
“Am I supposed to be afraid of that?” the Guardian replied with arms crossed.
“You should be,” Kamek answered. “Not because of what I can do with it, mind you, but because of what your superiors would do to you if they found out where it came from. Or have you forgotten our conversation when last we met?”
“Don’t try to threaten me, Kamek.”
“Oh, why not?” Kamek taunted. “I could ruin you any time I wanted. Just imagine your disgrace when the Seven find out that the ‘Evil Magikoopa Guildmaster’s’ gift of divination comes from a chip broken from the Star Road, clumsily misplaced by the Guardian forty-five years ago. So much for your careful policy of noninterference in mortals’ activities.”
“You’re right,” the Guardian shot back. “They’d be so enraged that the only way for me to redeem myself would be to kill the one who has been misusing that ill-gotten gift for so long.”
“Oh, I doubt you’d have that chance to redeem yourself.”
The Guardian turned his back to Kamek and walked to the other side of the room. “Either way, it doesn’t matter, because all I’ve done is stopped you from killing the only one who will be able to save you if the Cult of Belome has their way.”
“The Cult of Belome,” Kamek laughed. “They’re no threat. Do you honestly think they’ll ever revive that beast?”
“They’re closer than you can imagine, Kamek. Why do you think they’ve been raiding Booster’s ships?”
Kamek looked at the Guardian in confusion. “What do weapons shipments have to do with reviving Belome?”
“Nothing. They’re not after the weapons, you idiot. They’re after the sailors. They need Human sacrifices to fulfill the Old Prophecy and bring him back,” the Guardian spun around to face Kamek, “and they’ve almost fulfilled their number.”
“You’re just trying to scare me,” Kamek chided.
“Believe that if you want, Kamek. Or don’t. It makes no difference to me. All I can tell you is to tread lightly. I’m not the one playing a dangerous game.” The Guardian’s wooden body began to glow until it disappeared in a flash of light, leaving only the speck once again. I’ll be watching, Kamek. But the next time you do something suicidal, I might not be there to stop you. With that warning, the light vanished, leaving Kamek alone in his cabin with much to think about.
“Well, Mayor Martine,” Fortinbras sighed as he stood in the Mayor’s doorway giving his grim report, “I feel I have to apologize for the damage to your town. I know it wouldn’t have been attacked if my troops hadn’t been here.”
“It’s fine, Milord,” Martine replied with a smile. “None of the townspeople were hurt, and buildings can be repaired. I just hope your own losses weren’t too great.”
“Well, our casualties were mercifully light,” Fortinbras nodded, “but the fleet itself was crushed. This was a dark day indeed for Sarasaland.” Fortinbras wiped the sweat from his face as he continued, “Those new weapons worry me.”
“New weapons, Milord?”
“Oh, indeed,” Fortinbras explained. “We found one of their projectiles undetonated. It looks like some kind of high-yield Bullet Bill.”
“My goodness,” Martine gasped.
“Well, we’ll be ready for them next time,” Fortinbras stated defiantly. “Make no mistake of that.”
“No doubt, Milord,” Martine agreed.
“But in any case,” Fortinbras sighed, “we’ve inconvenienced you long enough. As soon as we see what we can salvage from the wrecked ships we’ll be out of your harbor. On behalf of the Four Princedoms of Sarasaland, as well as Her Imperial Highness's Soldiers, please accept my sincerest thanks for your hospitality. Farewell.”
“Oh, the pleasure is ours, Milord,”
Martine insisted as Fortinbras walked away. As soon as Fortinbras was out
of sight, however, the Mayor’s smile faded, and his expression turned dark.
“I have to tell the Brothers
about this,” he murmured. Quickly, he closed the door and strode up the stairs to his room, where he removed a specific courier pigeon from its cage. Martine quickly scribbled a note, placed it in the tube tied to the bird’s leg, and released the bird through the open window. Unknown to anyone but the
readers, that note would soon send repercussions throughout the world:
To the Priests of Belome in Moleville:
Booster’s new weapons are now in Koopa hands. I’ve seen them in action, and they are most effective. Continue current operations, but proceed with caution. We cannot allow Bowser to interfere when we are so close to our glorious goal.
Long Live the Devourer,
High Priest Martine
|If you would like to send some feedback
to the author of this submission, please complete this form.
What's your name?
What's your Email address?
How do you rate this submission?
Does this submission belong in Little
Would you like to see more from this author?
Comments and suggestions: