The next weird thing happened later that morning. Bowser, as mentioned before, had holed himself up in the laboratory with the door locked and refused to come out. For awhile, Iggy was sure that Ludwig was just going to up and lose it. He honestly expected to see his older brother attack the door's hinges with a power drill to get in there and find out what was going on before too much longer.
And then, shortly after his older brother had stormed off, grumbling something about taking a hot shower, all attempts to get into the laboratory had stopped. Iggy hadn't thought much of it until he had gotten bored sitting in his room, avoiding his death sentence of cleaning the basement bathroom, and had ventured off to find Ludwig and ask him if he wanted a rematch of Intergalactic Warfare.
He'd been unable to find the eldest koopaling in his usual haunts aside from the laboratory and, growing puzzled, had ventured outside for a quick look around the courtyard. There was nothing in the universe that could have prepared him for what he saw there. Ludwig and Karma... sitting on the rim of the garden fountain together. KISSING!
"AUGH!!! MY EYES!!!" Iggy cried, clapping his hands over them hurriedly and startling the couple.
"What's the matter with you, Iggy?" Karma asked, sounding more placid than he had ever heard her.
"There's really no need for this sort of commotion," Ludwig added, quirking a brow.
"But you're... and she... and you..." Iggy faltered, pointing wildly first at Karma and then at Ludwig, trying to get a grip on just what he wanted to say. "Since when do you guys LIKE each other?!" he managed to get out after several minutes.
Karma and Ludwig looked at each other as though confused. "You mean we don't?" Karma asked, sounding genuinely puzzled.
"NO you don't!" Iggy cried, sounding relieved that she might see reason. "You guys hate each other! You're always calling each other names and kicking and hitting each other! You don't... you never..." he couldn't actually bring himself to say kiss. "And what're you doing out here anyway, Ludwig? I thought you were popping an artery trying to figure out why Dad was hogging your lab this morning," he asked, trying to regain his composure.
"It's not my lab," Ludwig stated serenely. "I just use it frequently. Did you need something, Iggy?"
"No. No I didn't." Iggy sighed, not knowing what had gotten into his brother but not liking it at all.
"I'm not worried about father's use of the laboratory," Ludwig continued after an uncomfortable pause. "I'm sure that it's fully intact." Iggy felt as though his blood had frozen. Intact. There was that word again, though admittantly, he had certainly expected it of his brainy older brother much more than he had expected it of Bowser. Thoroughly weirded out, Iggy quietly excused himself back into the castle, rounding a corner and nearly bumping into Clawdia. Rats... all his careful avoidance all morning for nothing.
"Hello, son." She smiled at him. "I'm making some cookies, would you like one?"
"... Aren't you still mad at me about the bathroom?" Iggy asked tentatively.
"Why, of course not," she said gently, reaching down and patting his head. "Why would I be angry over a silly thing like that?" Iggy quirked a brow, not sure whether he should bless his good fortune or be even more weirded out. His mom didn't work herself into a snit about many things, but keeping a clean house certainly was one of the things that got under her scales. "You look a little pale, Iggy dear... are you sick?" she questioned.
"I just..." he trailed off, wondering if he should say anything. "People are acting weird today," he admitted quietly.
"Weird? Whatever do you mean?"
"Well... Dad's all holed up in the lab and just now, I accidentally walked in on Ludwig and Karma and they were..." He looked as though he had just bitten into a lemon. "They were kissing," he forced himself to say.
"Why shouldn't they kiss?" Clawdia questioned, cocking her head. "They're young and in love, aren't they?" Iggy could only stare. He knew his mother had a reputation of not always being in the loop of things, but there was no way she could have missed the way those two were constantly at each other's throats. In love? Sometimes Iggy wondered if he'd walk in on them with rocket launchers to each other's heads waiting for the other to blink.
"Sure... um... whatever," he shrugged. "I'd better go."
"Are you sure? They're fudge and walnut cookies..." Clawdia offered.
"That's okay, Mom, I'm really not that hungry. Maybe I AM feeling a little sick," he added quickly.
"Then you'd better go and lie down," his mother suggested. "I'll bring you up some soup later. It's a shame, really, because Lemmy isn't feeling terribly well either... I hope it's not contagious."
"Thanks," Iggy muttered non-committedly as he hurried past his mother, suddenly just wanting to get away and hide in his bedroom. Lemmy, sick or not, was the only person left who would listen to him as he tried to explain this insanity. He tromped up the stairs two at a time and bounded down the hallway, quickly slamming himself inside of his bedroom.
"Lemmy! There's some freaky stuff going on and- wow, you look awful," Iggy commented, giving his twin a critical look from where he was bundled under the blankets of his bed, his face an unhealthy pale shade.
"Good... because I feel awful." Lemmy croaked. "I like to have my mind and appearance match, funny enough."
"What happened?" Iggy asked, approaching the bed but not too closely, not wanting to inhale whatever deadly sick fumes his brother might be giving off. "Did you see Karma and Ludwig smooching in the garden too? I don't blame you, that'd make DAD himself screech like a schoolgirl."
"Huh?" Lemmy grunted, turning onto his side. "What're you talking about?"
"Nothing..." Iggy shrugged. "Just one of the things that's wonky today."
Lemmy stared at him for a minute and then shook his head faintly. "Tell me about it later," he sighed, pulling his bedspread over his head. "I really don't feel good right now and chances are I won't hear a word you're saying because I'll be putting all my energy into not throwing up."
"That bad, huh?"
"Yeeeeup..." Lemmy muttered. Iggy fidgeted, disappointed... he'd really wanted to tell Lemmy everything that had been going on and now he was being blown off. How typical. He watched as his brother drifted into a fitful sleep and wondered if maybe a nap wouldn't do HIM well too. Maybe he was just overreacting to everything today because of his nightmare last night... sure, it could happen.
He crossed the room to his own bed and climbed in, laying on his back. For nearly an hour, he tried to sleep with no results. He was too wired. As he moved to get up, his stomach suddenly did a sour flip, making him wince. Aw man, no, it couldn't be! Only an hour and he'd already caught whatever bug Lemmy had? Who said brothers didn't share everything, he thought bitterly. His stomach lurched again and he laid back down, talking softly to it.
"All right, stomach... I don't like you, you don't like me, but there's no reason to do this," he began. As he continued, he promised it all sorts of nice things: gummi worm ice cream, marshmallow brownies, strawberry eclairs, all if it would just calm itself and keep everything down. For a minute, it seemed to work and Iggy relaxed... but it was all a trick. His abdomen violently spasmed and he knew there was no avoiding it as he threw back the covers and made a dash for the bathroom.
As a small blessing, no one was inside as he shoved the door inward and collapsed in front of the toilet, becoming violently sick. When it had passed, he just laid there for a few minutes, getting himself back together. He was going to noogie Lemmy into the ground for infecting him once they were both better, he promised himself as he reached for the handle.
Iggy winced as the lid suddenly came down on his head, pinning him in place. "Oww..." he groaned irately, reaching up to push it off of himself. To his surprise, it wouldn't budge. A strange sort of panic set in as he began to struggle, trying desperately to free himself from the seat and lid that were holding him firmly down.
Suddenly, the toilet flushed on its own and Iggy, a helpless spectator, watched as the water drained from the bowl and the bottom seemed to sort of drop out entirely, enveloping him in a bright green light, just like the light he'd seen in his nightmare. And then, suddenly, he was being pulled forward.
Iggy braced his palms and legs against the outside bowl, determined that of all the indignities he had endured over the past few days, he was NOT going to add "sucked into a toilet" to his list. "RRGH! NO! STOP IT!!!" he growled, fighting for all he was worth. Not good enough... he was still being pulled in and there was nothing he could do to stop it. Goodbye world, goodbye family, goodbye lif-
He was suddenly yanked backwards and fell to his back on the tiles. Filled with relief, he opened his eyes to greet his savior and saw Wendy glowering down at him.
"What in the name of all that's decent are you DOING in here?!" she demanded. "Didn't King Daddikins say you weren't allowed in this bathroom anymore?"
"Sorry... was sick," he groaned, rubbing the back of his neck where the seat had pinned him.
"Oh please, you actually expect me to buy THAT again?" she snapped, crossing her arms over her chest and tapping her foot angrily. Well, at least WENDY was still the same.
"Look... some weird stuff has been happening," he tried to explain.
"Yeah, no kidding. I come in here to put on some eyeliner, and I see you trying to climb into the toilet! What're you trying to do, go back where you came from?"
"I was being pulled in!" Iggy said frantically. "It's some kind of weird portal thing! Go look and see for yourself!" Wendy eyed him in disbelief, though something in his eyes must have led her to believe he was genuinely frightened because she shook her head and approached the toilet, lifting the lid and peering inside. Iggy turned away, unable to watch. What had he done? He'd just sentenced his own sister to a swirling, green-lighted, watery grave!
"Iggy, get over here!" she commanded. Iggy remained where he was, too scared to move. "NOW!!!" his sister bellowed, startling him into action as he crept to the edge of the toilet and forced himself to look. Nothing. Just water.
"But... but it was-" he faltered.
"You're lucky I'm in a good mood today,"
Wendy growled. "Otherwise I'd rearrange that landfill you call a face...
now beat it!" Iggy paused and then gladly hurried out of the bathroom and
into the hallway as the door was slammed rudely behind him. Iggy shook
his head, wondering if everything he'd seen in there had been some sort
of weird fever hallucination as he trudged back in the direction of his
bedroom, feeling like maybe this time he WOULD be able to nap.
He didn't know how long he slept, but Iggy awoke sometime later to find Clawdia seated on the edge of his bed, a large bowl of chicken soup in her lap as she watched him like a hawk. As his eyes opened, she smiled. "Good. You're awake," she said, spooning up some of the soup and offering it to him. "This will calm your stomach."
"I'm not hungry," Iggy protested, turning his head stubbornly as he cast a sidelong look at Lemmy's bed, which was now empty. "Where'd Lemmy go?"
"Oh, he's feeling much better," his mother assured him. "He's gone downstairs with everybody else, actually. We were wondering if you planned on joining us for dinner tonight."
"I dunno..." Iggy muttered, snuggling a little further into his blankets. He really didn't feel sick anymore, but at the same time, he somehow dreaded what might be waiting downstairs. "Are you sure Lemmy's okay?" he asked, remembering how horrible Lemmy had looked earlier and finding it unlikely that he would be recovered enough to have dinner so soon afterward.
"Why wouldn't he be, dear?" Clawdia asked, a mysterious look coming into her eyes beneath her glasses. "Everyone is fine. We are all one-hundred percent intact." Iggy flinched noticeably. "So why don't you come downstairs and we'll all have dinner together?" she suggested.
"If it's all the same to you, I'd rather-" But he didn't get to finish as Clawdia picked him up, carefully and gently as she had when he was a baby, and carried him out of the room and downstairs. When they reached the dining hall, she set him down again, for which Iggy was thankful. The last thing he needed at the moment was to be razzed by his siblings for being carried. None of them had been carried in years, actually... the only time Bowser picked one of them up anymore was when it was prelude to throwing them across the room.
As he entered the dining hall, Iggy immediately wanted to pull his hair out and scream in frustration. The wrongness of everything was just too much.
Larry was angrily prodding Roy in the arm with his fork as Roy cowered, looking as though he lacked the courage to fight back and was on the verge of tears as Larry growled something about being owed money, Morton sat quietly at his place reading Gone With The Wind and avoiding conversation with everyone, Wendy was dressed in possibly the grungiest outfit Iggy had ever seen with her face devoid of makeup, Lemmy was in the process of rolling his eyes and remarking on how utterly immature and uncivil Larry and Roy were being to one another, and Ludwig and Karma sat off to the side, happily nuzzling each other.
"Who are you freaks and where's my family?!" Iggy heard himself say before he could stop himself. The minor conversation instantly stopped as all eyes focused on Iggy. There was an eerie pause and then everyone laughed, though it sounded as dry and humorless as a handful of leaves being scraped against a screen door.
"Perhaps my dear brother has had too much sun," Lemmy lamented without a trace of his usual good humor in his voice.
"What sun? I haven't even been outside in hours, you geek!" Iggy shot back, feeling Clawdia's hand land on his shoulder in a grip that was just a little too tight for comfort.
"Now now... that's no way to speak to your brother," Clawdia said gently. "Why don't you go and wash your hands for dinner, dear? Your father says he'd like to show us all what he's been working on in the lab when we're finished."
"Wash my hands? You never asked me to wash my hands before," the Koopaling protested. What was going on?!
"Don't be difficult, Iggy," his mother said a bit more forcefully, the grip tightening a little more. "This is a special dinner. We're celebrating Larry's birthday a bit early." A bit? Larry's birthday wasn't for another eight weeks...
"Stop giving Mom a hard time, you spazoid," Wendy put in, looking disgusted.
"I don't see you washing your hands!" Iggy shot back.
"I already washed 'em, moron," Wendy replied, holding up her palms which, even from where he stood, looked splotchy with grease. "And we're all waiting on you so why don't you just go and do it, for crying out loud?" Iggy looked over everybody at the table and realized they were all looking at him like HE was the strange one and that their behavior seemed not in the least out of the ordinary.
"Do I have to?" he complained up at his mother.
"Yes... and be sure to take your time and do a good job," Clawdia replied. "Dinner won't be ready for another ten minutes or so." Iggy sighed in resignation and turned, plodding obediently back in the direction he'd come, wondering why his mom had even bothered carrying him downstairs if she was just going to send him back up.
As he reached the top and headed for the bathroom, something suddenly clamped on his upper arm as a hand covered his mouth and yanked him aside. Iggy struggled, kicking and biting at his captor wildly. "LEMME GOFPH!!!" he cried out, his words muffled by the palm on his mouth. He supposed he should have been ready for anything after seeing everybody in the dining hall. He probably wouldn't even have been phased if a cluster of bats went yodeling down the hallway singing the Star Spangled Banner, but for some reason being tackled and apprehended in his own house just didn't seem like it would have been very likely.
"Shh... Ignatious, calm yourself," a familiar voice whispered as Iggy was hauled into one of the spare rooms. As soon as the door slammed closed, he was released and turned to stare at Kamek blankly.
"Great, so you went weird on me too? Are you a kidnapper now?!" Iggy sighed. "This is completely unreal..."
"I'm not kidnapping you, I'm protecting you," the Magikoopa explained. "Those people out there are not your family, as you may have guessed."
"I dunno about that." Iggy shrugged. "They're acting a little weird, but-"
"They're acting more than just a 'little weird'. They're acting completely ludicrous!" Kamek snapped. "When's the last time you saw any of them behave that way?"
"Well... never..." he admitted lamely.
"Then logic would denote that they're not your family," the sorcerer concluded, folding his arms.
"Yeah... okay. Alright, hot shot, where is my family then, since you have all the answers?" the Koopaling asked irately.
"I don't know." Kamek sighed. "But listen, this all ties in to that blasted toilet your father bought. I've been watching that Blorknik fellow ever since his shop appeared out of nowhere... conveniently on the day your family was in need of a replacement appliance." The Magikoopa leaned forward, dropping his voice to a whisper. "He's not of this world, Ignatious."
"That doesn't surprise me. Anybody who enjoys selling toilets would have to be an alien," Iggy remarked.
"I'm serious!" the sorcerer hissed. "Your family could very well be dead or halfway to Mars by now! This is no time for jokes!"
"Sorry..." he muttered, looking at the floor.
"Have you noticed anything odd besides your family's behavior?" Kamek questioned.
"Aside from the toilet trying to eat my head earlier today, no not really."
"Tell me everything," the sorcerer said eagerly. Iggy, somewhat embarrassed, related his tale of the head-eating toilet, the green light, the attempt to suck him in, and the rest of it. "So that's how it happened..." Kamek murmured when Iggy had finished.
"How what happened?"
"Come with me," Kamek commanded, scurrying out of the spare bedroom, leaving Iggy to wonder what he was so excited about before trailing after him. By the time he caught up to him, Kamek was already in the bathroom, perched on the closed lid of the toilet and busily removing the lid of the tank. "EUREKA!" the Magikoopa declared, motioning Iggy closer.
As the Koopaling sidestepped nearer, not feeling comfortable being anywhere near the toilet, he noted that the inside of the tank didn't contain anything he would have expected to see. It looked like one of Ludwig's inventions with the metal casing removed as green lights flickered in intricate patterns, valves softly hissed and small fanbelts whirred incessantly.
"This is some sort of transport device," Kamek explained.
"Transport? To where?" Iggy asked. There were only so many places you could go in a bathroom, after all.
"I don't know... but my guess is it was activated when a member of your family was left alone in here unsupervised and snapped them up without the others knowing... that would be the logical explanation, at least."
"So then who're the people downstairs?" the young Koopa questioned.
"Decoys... and bad ones, I might add," the sorcerer stated, fiddling with the inside of the tank some more. There was a sudden chime and then both he and Iggy began to glow bright green.
"What'd you do?!" Iggy squealed, trying to run and finding that he couldn't.
"I think, Ignatious, that we're about to find out," Kamek said cryptically as both he and the Koopaling shimmered and then vanished entirely.
There was a brief sensation of flight and then the Magikoopa and Koopaling both rematerialized in an area completely unfamiliar to them. The first thing to strike Iggy about it was that everything was blindingly white and smelled like toilet cleaner.
"Aww man, Kamek... I think you just sent us both to the big bathroom in the sky..." Iggy commented, dazed.
"I certainly sent us somewhere..." the Magikoopa remarked, shaking off the strain of being teleported and taking a step forward. The room they were in was enormous and the walls were covered in monitors and control panels. Off to the right, there were a line of tubes, each with something suspended inside.
"Looks like some kind of spaceship..." Iggy said when he had gathered his scattered wits.
"I think you may be right," Kamek said, looking around like he didn't know where to focus first.
"Hey, look!" the Koopaling yelled, racing toward the tubes before Kamek could warn him to be careful. Iggy skidded to a halt in front of them, straightening his glasses and peering at them. They were filled with some sort of swirling blue gas and suspended in each was a member of Iggy's family, seeming to be deeply asleep. "Hey guys! GUYS! Wake up!" he cried, knocking on various tubes and getting no response.
"Hmm... they appear to be in a state of suspended animation. Let me try something," Kamek muttered, approaching one of the control panels and pressing a few buttons. The vapor in the tubes suddenly turned a bright red and all of the contained Koopas began to contort and shift, transforming into earthworms of various sizes and colors.
"Well, THAT'S not right..." the Magikoopa remarked, pressing a few more buttons.
"Aww, can't we keep 'em like this?" Iggy asked, looking into Wendy's tube at the fat purple worm that was floating there. He could just imagine the sort of reaction she'd have when she woke up and looked at herself in the mirror... he'd never seen an earthworm flip out before. Maybe she'd explode!
Kamek didn't answer and continued to fool with the controls. The vapor in the tubes turned a bright purple as everybody reverted back to their former states, much to Iggy's disappointment. There was a sound like a soda can being opened as the vapor vanished entirely, dropping the Koopas unceremoniously to the floor of their respective prisons with a clunk. Lemmy was the first to show signs of life as he twitched and slowly gathered his hands beneath himself.
"Hey Lemmy! You okay?" Iggy asked, knocking on his tube. The Koopaling gave no indication of being able to hear him as he sat up groggily and rubbed a forming bruise on his forehead from the fall. Nearby, there was a very faint tapping sound and Iggy turned to see that Morton had also come fully awake and looked to be pounding with all of his might on the side of his tube just to produce the tiny noise. He was also moving his mouth like he was yelling, but Iggy couldn't hear a word.
If they got out of this alive, he definitely would have to see if he could bring a couple of those tubes home with him for Wendy, Roy, and Morton to live in. Forever.
"There must be some way to get them out of there..." Kamek muttered. "Let's see what this does..." As Kamek moved to flip a switch, a panel in the wall suddenly slid open and Iggy stared in utter amazement as an exact copy of himself stormed toward them. Well... no, that was wrong. It wasn't quite exact. The double's hair was combed far too neatly and instead of glasses, had fitted his eyes with contacts that made him squint.
"Intruders!" the Iggy copy stated, sounding outraged. "You're not supposed to be here!"
"Sorry, guy." Iggy shrugged. "But I'm pretty sure you guys weren't supposed to run off with my family either... er... whoever you guys are, that is."
Iggy's copy's eyes glinted red and his body went rigid. "Number 3441. This is Number 3448 calling Number 3441. Security breech on deck C. Plans in danger of being interrupted. Final subject has not cooperated with the transplant process and is on board the ship," he declared, his voice taking on a robotic tinny quality. Kamek began frantically pushing buttons, trying to find the right combination to release the royal family who had all come awake by now and were either pounding on the walls of their tubes or were looking around in perplexed confusion.
"Kamek, could you hurry it up, do you think?" Iggy asked, growing uneasy at the sound of an army of far-off footsteps rapidly approaching.
"I'm trying!" the Magikoopa insisted, continuing to press the array of buttons and succeeding in doing nothing except setting off various hazard alarms. As Iggy stepped forward to help, his clone suddenly stepped in his path.
"You have caused much trouble," the clone smirked. "But you will not stand in our way any further... our victory is nigh."
"You can knock off the swords and sorcery jargin," Iggy grumbled, raising his hands into fists and drawing himself into a fighting stance as his double did the same. It occurred to him that this was absolutely insane, attempting to fight himself. There was no advantage whatsoever as both of them had the same stats. Same weight, same size, same agility, same-
"Same weakness..." Iggy muttered, looking mischevious. It was a long-shot, but if this clone was supposedly modeled after him, then it just might work. He lunged forward, feigning a tackle. The double easily sidestepped out of the way which was exactly where Iggy wanted him as he lashed out, grabbing the clone's ankle and twisting.
The double shrieked in agony, doubling over and nursing its broken limb. Roy had broken the real Iggy's ankle nearly two summers ago during a fateful wrestling match over the last of the bean dip. Not Iggy's finest moment by any means, and it hadn't been set perfectly so it still tended to get sore from time to time. The doctor had warned him that there was a fault in the bone and that if he wasn't careful, he might end up rebreaking it in the future.
"Ah! There we are!" Kamek declared, finally having hit the right combination of buttons and watching as the tubes lifted upward and disappeared into the ceiling, releasing their captives.
"What in the world?" Clawdia wondered aloud as she took two stumbling steps forward before leaning on Bowser for support.
"Ugh... my head is pounding..." Ludwig complained, clutching his temples.
"What the frig is going on?!" Roy demanded, seizing Larry since he was nearest. "Did YOU have something to do with this, you little infection?!"
"Guys?" Iggy spoke up, trying to get their attention. "Gu-uys..." They continued on with their banter. "GUYS!!!" Iggy shrieked, making everybody turn to look at him. "Call me nuts, I think we're about to have company," he warned, hearing a loud hissing from outside. At that exact moment, the entire left wall of the room seemed to fall over, revealing an irate-looking family of clones standing in the middle of the castle laboratory. This ship, apparently, had been what Bowser's clone had been working on so fervently earlier.
"It is unfortunate that you were so curious..." Clawdia's double remarked as the family of nine boarded the ship.
"I've been injured," Iggy's double informed them, still clutching his broken ankle and glaring with fiery intensity at his counterpart as the side of the ship replaced itself with a loud clatter, locking itself in place.
"Retire to the sick bay for reconstruction, 3441," Bowser's clone instructed as the Iggy-double drew himself wearily to his feet and limped out of the way. "For such a small boy, you've certainly caused us much difficulty," the Bowser-double snarled, his voice no longer the low rumbling pitch that mimicked Bowser's but now a strangely-familiar high squeaky tone.
"Mister Blorknik?" Iggy asked, confused.
"Blorknik. No Mister," the Bowser-double corrected, his skin rippling and shifting as he reverted back into the form of the small strange-looking man that Iggy had seen at the toilet store the day before. He shifted his gaze to the Koopa family standing behind Iggy. "Return to your enclosures and none of you will be harmed," he instructed briskly.
"Who's this yutz?" Roy snorted, flexing his muscles and attempting to look as intimidating as possible.
"Someone's got some explaining to do..." Karma added, pounding a closed fist into the flat of her palm.
"I concur," Ludwig put in, joining the forming lineup of opposition and looking thoroughly agitated. A look of annoyance flashed across Blorknik's face as he watched the angry Koopas stand rigidly, all looking like they were ready for a fight, even the usually-docile Clawdia. The clones, sensing the impending conflict, lined up on the opposite side of the room, each standing across from their counterpart and assuming a threatening posture as Blorknik quickly shifted back into his borrowed form of Bowser.
Ordinarily, Iggy would have thought that this was insanely cool, but the fact that this wasn't a videogame and was really happening seemed to keep him firmly rooted in reality. There was no reset button and as far as he knew, none of his siblings or parents had any extra lives. So, if they messed up...
"Get them!" Blorknik ordered as the clones surged forward. "Take as many as you can alive, kill those who put up too much of a struggle!" The deck was instantly alive with tussling and cries as clone and counterpart collided, locked in battle. Iggy stood helplessly by, watching as the fight took place, unable to tell the difference between his family and the alien doubles.
"Ignatious, come!" Kamek ordered, tugging him aside. "You'll get hurt!"
"I can't just leave them!" Iggy protested, shaking off the sorcerer's grasp. "Well... I could, but if they survive I'd never hear the end of it..."
"The people of this planet make me sick," Iggy heard someone say above the ruckus and turned to see his clone, its leg in a cast, hobbling back into the room. "You all live in fear of everything, and that which you do not understand, you either worship or kill."
"What's not to understand?" Iggy demanded to know. "You goons played Invasion of the Bodysnatchers with my family and were all set to shoot them off into space!"
"You ought to pity people like us, people who have nothing," the clone continued, hobbling closer to Iggy, casually sidestepping as Larry and his clone charged at each other, claws splayed, and tilting his head ever so slightly to avoid the chunk of console that Bowser had ripped up and hurled at his own double.
"You have nothing but you can build rockets that'll take you entire universes away from home?" the Koopaling asked skeptically. Iggy's double gave a half-smirk.
"Desperate times, and all..." the clone told him. "You'd be surprised how long we've been watching your family and how intimately our takeover was planned around your day-to-day existance-"
"And that's another thing. You never said why there was a need for this 'takeover'. What're you guys trying to pull?" Iggy interrupted, becoming angry. His clone looked off-put at his rudeness, but smoothed his complexion over and continued.
"It's quite simple... our atmosphere back home is nearly the same as the atmosphere here... the difference is that our people have recently grown much more succeptible to surrounding diseases and have begun to die off. We were sent to find other forms of life that were still able to thrive and send them back home to be examined and tested while we assumed their forms and took their place so no one would be any the wiser." The clone began to chuckle a bit. "So you see, we've found ourselves to be doubly fortunate. The ten of us stay here and reap the benefits of being a family of rich psuedo-nobles, and the rest of you are strapped to examination tables and cut apart piece by piece until our doctors find out everything that they want to know about you. From what we've heard of your family, no one around here will miss you anyway."
"Unless we stop you," Iggy countered bravely, making his double laugh loudly.
"Highly unlikely. Our ship has been constructed after your finest technology and has the best of security systems... everything from your proton cannons to your insta-track laser sensors. I assure you that we have the upper hand," the clone replied smugly, baring his fangs and hobbling closer. He paused suddenly, unnerved by the sudden look of disbelief on Iggy's face.
"Proton cannons... insta-track-" A large grin unfurled on the young Koopa's mouth. "You IDIOTS!" he cried in jubilation, startling both Kamek and his double. Iggy turned, a wild look of happiness in his eyes. "They based their ship on the ones in Intergalactic Warfare!" he informed the Magikoopa. Kamek favored him with a blank look of confusion. "It's a videogame! I know all about the stuff they're using!" he laughed.
"So what?" the clone sneered, angry at the Koopaling's insolence. "Knowing about it will do you no good." Iggy, however, wasn't listening as he hurriedly tugged one of his spiked wristguards over his palm and scanned the ceiling, aiming at the nearest laser sensor and hurling the guard like a frisbee. There was a small explosion upon impact, and the laser sensor was no more.
"What?!" the clone declared in disbelief as the others stopped fighting for a moment at the sudden noise.
"Insta-track laser sensors are usless!" Iggy taunted, retrieving his wristguard from the floor. "It even says in the manual that they're made of some of the flimsiest junk known to man and a waste of money to put in your ship... I bet you guys were even dumb enough to add the self-destruct button too." He had meant it as a joke, but the sudden falter in the clone's eyes made Iggy's chest tighten with anticipation. They had. These morons actually HAD put in a self-destruct mechanism!
"Kamek! Get the others out of here, I need to go!" Iggy insisted, running for the nearest door.
"Really, Ignatious, you should have thought of that before we-" But Iggy was already gone.
"No! NO!!! He'll ruin everything!" Iggy's clone hissed, limping as quickly as he was able on his broken ankle after the Koopaling.
Kamek was still confused but nonetheless raised his hands above his head, muttering a spell under his breath. Sure, he could have used his magic in the first place to get everyone out of their tubes, but he so seldomly got the chance to press buttons anymore. There was a sound like a series of corks coming out of bottles as each member of the Koopa family vanished, leaving a throng of confused and angry clones.
"They've escaped!" Ludwig's double roared, whirling to glare at Kamek. "This is YOUR fault, you little-"
"Forget him!" Blorknik's voice ordered,
making the rest of the clones turn their gazes upon him. "Find the four-eyed
one! He means to destroy the ship with all of us aboard!" Wendy's clone
fidgeted at this and reached for a device on her wrist that would deactivate
herself. "Do that, 3447, and I'll see to it that you're never recreated.
This is no time to panic," Blorknik informed her stonily. Wendy's double
hesitated and then obediently dropped her hand. "He's only a boy, spread
out and overtake him. If nothing else, we must reach the self-destruct
mechanism before he does and protect it at all costs!" he told the others
as they scattered, all in search of Iggy.
"C'mon, it's gotta be around here someplace..." Iggy muttered, creeping down a hallway deep in the bowels of the ship, his eyes raptly watching the ceiling, floor, and walls for any sign of a trick panel or a secret door. The self-destruct room didn't seem to be in any of the usual places he hid it when he was playing against one of his siblings... so that meant that they hadn't used his ships for inspiration.
Probably used one of Ludwig's, Iggy thought with resentment. And if that were the case, he'd be lucky to find anything at all as his older brother was possibly one of the sloppiest starship constructors he'd ever dealt with. Leave it to Ludwig to fill the kitchen with cannons and blasters, but leave his entire east deck completely unarmed.
"This way! I hear footsteps!" Iggy heard someone shout as he quickened his pace, realizing he was fast running out of places to run. Alright, these guys had already proven that they were about as sharp as a sack of jello when it came to abductions and ship-building, and he had no doubt that their self-destruct room was probably right in front of his face and he was just missing it.
"There he is!" Blorknik's voice shrieked, making the Koopaling break into a full-tilt run without even looking behind him. He didn't need to look at Blorknik's ugly face, what he needed now was someplace to hide. Bingo! On the right side of the hallway up ahead was an unimportant-looking door and he eagerly headed toward it.
"Please be unlocked... please please please..." Iggy pleaded as he slammed into it, frantically turning the latch with both hands. Much to his relief, the door easily opened and he slipped inside, fitting the lock into place a split second before the door rattled in its frame, followed by cheated howling and angry pounding as the aliens congregated outside.
"You FOOLS! You let him reach the termination chamber!" Blorknik cried. Termination chamber, huh? Iggy cast a look around and felt his heart sink as he realized that, irony of all ironies, he was trapped in a small bathroom. Wonderful... his troubles all began with a toilet, and he'd end this entire shindig with ANOTHER toilet at his side. But if this was the termination chamber, wouldn't it be logical to have a self-destruct button in it someplace? Or was "termination" just these people's fancy way of saying "going to the bathroom"?
Ignoring the shouts and pounding from outside, Iggy began to search the room, looking for buttons of any sort. As he tore open the sink's cabinet, shoving aside packages of toilet paper and bottles of cleaner, he heard Blorknik speak again, "Go and retrieve the atomizer." Iggy didn't know what an atomizer was, but having seen enough movies, knew it was likely something Blorknik intended to use to get rid of the door and probably him right along with it. He began to search faster.
"Where is it?!" he hissed, growing frustrated as he opened the medicine cabinet next, showering the sink with empty pill bottles that looked like they had been put there solely for show as he searched the shelves for false panels. Nothing. His eyes wandered to the toilet next, realizing it was the only place he hadn't searched. The Koopaling hesitated and then gave a defeated sigh as he moved toward it, lifting the lid off of the tank and looking inside, expecting to see the same sort of intricate setup of lights and machinery the decoy toilet in Castle Koopa had.
All that was in the tank was the simple pump-and-pulley setup and the usual doseage of water. Growling in frustration, Iggy slammed the lid of the tank back into place. If it wasn't in there, then where-
His eyes wandered to the bowl grimly. "No... no way," he said aloud to nobody in particular even as he lifted the lid and seat and peered inside. At the very back of the bowl, he could make out the legendary and rhythmic red flashing of the self-destruct button. "ONLY YOU PEOPLE WOULD THINK OF SOMETHING LIKE THIS!!!" Iggy screamed angrily at the ceiling as he debated on how he was going to reach the button. Nothing in the bathroom looked like it would really work as a button-pressing device... well, except his own hand.
So... THIS is what it had finally come down to, huh? The bespectacled Koopaling wasn't sure, but he swore he could hear DAD laughing his tail off at him from wherever in the heavens he was lurking. He began to wonder if saving his family from alien slavery and dismemberment was really worth the price of having to actually reach into a toilet.
He would have continued pondering this for possibly hours, but wasn't able to as he heard footsteps stopping outside of the bathroom door and the clatter of a device being set down and put together. They had come back with the atomizer. Iggy bit his tongue and held his breath as he squeezed his eyes closed and then plunged his hand forward as far as he could. He strained, reaching, but found that, aside from touching what FELT like a button with the tip of his claw, he was not able to press it. His arms simply weren't long enough.
"No... c'mon, just a little further..." Iggy begged his arm. "Please?" His arm, however, didn't seem to be listening as the young Koopa gave an enraged roar. "That does it!" he snapped. "I did NOT clean up the bathroom, go toilet-shopping, watch my family get abducted and replaced by freaky clones, get chased around a spaceship, AND STICK MY HAND IN A TOILET FOR NOTHING!!! SOMEBODY IS GOING TO CUT ME A FREAKIN' BREAK HERE!!!"
Just as he finished his tirade, there was a loud Ker-CHOW! sound as the bathroom door was vaporized entirely. Surprisingly, Iggy was not afraid, just highly irritated by it. He had not come this far to be thwarted by a couple lousy centimeters. And then, as though some divine power had touched his head, he got an idea as he reached for the flush handle.
Blorknik and the clones had been in the process of filing into the bathroom to surround him and had suddenly frozen as the Koopaling began to press down on the handle. "NO!!!" Blorknik cried in a voice that sounded like someone had stepped on a chicken.
"GOODNIGHT, SAIGON!!!" Iggy laughed triumphantly, doing his best to sound tough and unable to think of any more macho-sounding "winner" lines as he flushed the toilet. The water swirled and, mercifully, Iggy felt his arm being tugged further inside by the suction as his claw first collided with, and then pressed the button. Blorknik and his crew gave a combined moaning wail that sounded like it had come directly from the ninth level of the underworld as the ship began to shudder.
"Warning... warning... self-destruct
sequence will complete in 3... 2... 1..." the robotic voice of the
ship's monitoring system reported. Iggy's vision was overtaken by a warm
starburst of reds and yellow as the ship began to destroy itself with the
aliens aboard it. This was not the way he had wanted to go... not even
a teenager yet and stuck up to the elbow in an an alien's toilet, but at
least his family would be safe. As the tiles of the wall began to burst
outward in fans of dust and plaster, the world spun out of control and
darkness overcame him.
Iggy didn't know how long he floated in a private sea of blackness. Was he dead? He didn't know... knowing his luck, probably.
"Iggy..." a voice said distantly, snapping him to attention.
"Who's that?" he demanded to know, trying not to sound frightened.
"It's all right now, Iggy, you can open your eyes."
"Are you an angel?" Iggy asked. There was a long pause and then the sensation of being hit rather rudely across the face. The Koopaling winced and opened his eyes, finding his family standing over him in a concerned semicircle as Roy rubbed his knuckles where he'd hit his brother.
"Don't ever call me an angel again, four-eyes," he threatened.
"But... but wait a sec, I was on the ship and it-" he tried to explain.
"Kamek retrieved you once the self-destruct sequence had been initiated while we evacuated the premises," Ludwig explained off-handedly as though this was something Iggy should have known.
"... Right..." Iggy muttered, his head still reeling.
"I've not yet looked at the damage to the laboratory, but I'm fairly sure I'm not going to like it," the eldest Koopaling added.
"My offer of a waahmbulance still stands," Karma reminded him as he rolled his eyes and edged a bit further from the hybrid.
"You mean you didn't even check to make sure they were dead?!" Iggy demanded to know.
"Nothing could have survived that kind of explosion," Larry assured his brother. "I'm surprised it didn't take down the entire castle." Iggy opened his mouth to argue and then realized that he was right. Just because they were aliens didn't make them indestructible.
"How are you feeling, Iggy?" Clawdia inquired, putting a hand on her son's shoulder and helping him sit up.
"I dunno..." the Koopaling muttered, sitting up and straightening his glasses which, by some small miracle, had managed not to break from both the explosion and Roy's protest to being called an angel. He felt okay, he guessed. About as okay as a guy whose entire world was almost brought down by toilets could feel, that was. He stood up and took a few wobbly steps, regaining his barings. "Yeah, I think so," he said at last.
"Good... now everybody haul your rears inside so we can salvage what's left of our house," Bowser grumped, looking at the plumes of black smoke curling up from the south wing of Castle Koopa with embarrassment. He had no doubt the wreckage was visible from as far as the Mushroom Kingdom and they were likely speculating as he spoke about what had gone on there.
But as long as HE had anything to say
about it, the truth would be kept under tight wraps, especially since he
himself didn't believe it. Deciding that it hurt his head too much to try
and actually recall what had happened aboard the alien ship, Bowser simply
ushered his family back inside to look at how much damage they were dealing
Normality returned to the Koopas' routine after a week or so of cleanup and repair work. As it had turned out, the explosion of Blorknik's ship and crew hadn't managed to extend beyond the laboratory, though destroying it entirely. After Ludwig's expected fit of rage at his experiments in progress having gone up in smoke, a team of underlings had been called in to hastily clean up and repair the room as best as they were able to give the eldest Koopaling, if nothing else, a clean slate to start from.
Iggy sat contentedly in front of the television, finishing up his latest game of Intergalactic Warfare as he methodically ate a small stack of cookies stacked next to a glass of lemon cola. Though having narrowly escaped death, he still wasn't very health-conscious.
Playing against the CPU was never a challenge since it always set up its ship and troops in similar formations and anybody with half a brain could figure out their pattern in a couple of minutes if they paid attention. Lemmy had been playing against him earlier, but had lost interest and gone off to practice his balancing act after three defeats, leaving his twin to his own devices.
"Eat THIS, Blorknik!" Iggy chuckled, revelling in his troops blowing the current ship he was invading to smithereens. He must have recounted his escapades aboard the alien ship at least four hundred times in the past week before finally running out of people who wanted to listen to him. Oh well... maybe they'd think differently when he wrote the bestselling book, he comforted himself.
"You're going to upset your stomach if you eat all of those," a voice stated, shaking Iggy out of his videogame nirvana as he looked up to see his mother standing in the doorway of the rec room and pointing at the stack of cookies.
"I missed breakfast and I got hungry," the Koopaling replied instantly.
"You couldn't have held out til lunch and had something that was better for you?" Clawdia questioned skeptically, crossing her arms over her chest. Geez... what was it with mothers and health? They constantly had stories about things that tasted good not being good for you and it seemed like everything fun was dangerous. He was constantly bombarded with threats of putting eyes out, breaking legs, going deaf, going bald...
Speaking of which, Iggy was raptly looking forward to the day that Ludwig started to go bald because he was going to make so much fun of him that he'd have to get a toupee... and then he'd make fun of that too. But maybe he was getting ahead of himself. Ludwig was only fifteen and Iggy guessed that he had at least ten more years until his eldest brother started turning into Mr. Clean.
"How's the new toilet working out?" Clawdia questioned, changing the subject for which Iggy was grateful.
"So far, so good," the Koopaling replied, putting his game on pause. "No clones running around yet as far as I can tell."
"There had better not be," his mother replied, smirking. "Your father is STILL fuming about having to pay extra to have that one shipped from the Toadstool Department Store since they wouldn't let him come in person." She shifted her stance slightly and Iggy noticed that she was carrying her purse.
"Where ya going?" he asked. Clawdia's face fell slightly.
"Our washing machine exploded about an hour ago," she explained. "It ruined several of your sister's dresses when it went, too." Iggy beamed, always pleased to learn when Wendy had been given a hard time. "So, I'm going out to get a new one, that's all. I heard that there's a new store that just opened right on the edge of the kingdom."
"Really?" Iggy asked, suspicious. "What's it called?"
"I can't remember, exactly... some strange name." She shrugged, turning to leave. "EepOpp's Laundry and Cleaning Appliances, or something to that effect." Iggy paused, staring after his mother for a long moment before hopping up from the couch and turning off his game.
"Wait! I'll come too!" he called, scuttling after her.
"You? I thought you hated shopping," Clawdia pointed out, looking puzzled as he struggled into his jacket.
"Yeah, but washing machines aren't as bad as toilets, at least," he pointed out as they headed for the door. "Besides," he added, narrowing his eyes a bit, "you never know..."
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