Duel Koopas

By Edward D. Morrison

Artwork by Fried Rooster

Prologue: Nick's Plans

Seething from his latest plans being thwarted, Nick Koopa was stewing in his laboratory in Sub-con Castle. His meddling cousins, the children of King Bowser Koopa, had ratted on him to Bowser about his plans to take over Dark Land, and if not for them he would be sitting on the throne, negotiating the forcible annexing of the Mushroom Kingdom to his territory. He thought he could trust the brats, and had even gotten Ludwig to be his friend, but it was all rather a ruse.

'Ah, well, pouting here won't solve my problems. I just need to be more secretive next time.' Nick recorded some plans in his notebook that sat on his desk in front of him, but after putting them down on paper, they were all rather flimsy and were flat compared to his latest masterpiece. Sighing, he decided to take a break and closed up his books; he would visit Susan. Yes, that was it.

He found his sister in her room on the Internet, with a large velvet mat spread out on the floor, littered with cards. Intrigued, he took a closer look at the play mat and found it a 3x3 grid, decorated with the names of the nine lands of the Koopa Kingdom, each with a little scenery from each one. The cards themselves, noted Nick, were all Koopa minions, and on the field currently in addition to all of the various war machines and soldiers depicted on the cards was old Kooky himself… well, a picture of him on the card in the lab, anyway.

Susan still did not notice his presence in the room; Nick peered over her shoulder to look at the computer more fully. On the screen was the same sort of grid with the same cards, and Susan was tapping away on the keyboard, responding to whatever moves the computer or her opponent had made. She turned away to draw another card from her deck on the velvet play mat and noticed him in the room for the first time.

"What are you doing in my room?!"

"I was bored, alright?! I must admit, I'm intrigued here by what you're doing. What exactly is it? A game?" Nick inquired, asking the blatantly obvious.

"No, it's a cooking class palate-head. Actually, this is the Koopa Trading Card Game that I made a couple of years ago, and I'm playing against Karma and Lemmy at the same time. You never tried it, did you?"

"Hmm…" Nick's mind was at work here. There was something trying to surface, but it wasn't coming to his grasp. What plan? "Is it truly all that popular, or just among Koopas? I mean, do Mushroomers or the Marios play it at all?"

"Yeah, it's a huge fad," replied Susan, playing a card from her hand on top of a brown-shelled Koopa Troopa with boxing gloves on the playing field what turned out to be a portrait of Iggy. "Just about everyone in the Mushroom and Koopa Kingdom plays it to some extent and spends money on it, which goes to me. Interested, dear brother?" Susan didn't wait for a response, turning back to her computer before he could say anything. Nick's brain's workings were whirring around, trying to find a way he could use a card game like this to his advantage. It was a realm he had never explored before in his plans, and he was quite positive there was a way he could use it to gain the throne, if he could get people interested enough in his card games.

Nick rushed back out of Susan's room into his laboratory as quickly as he had come, earning a quizzical look from his sister as he bolted out the door. Running over to his bookshelves in his haste, he scanned the titles for a book he had received as a present from Lemmy when they had first met on Earth trading card games. He then began to do research on the different games, looking up what each entailed and the rules of each. He could easily with his magic go to Earth and get full control over the creator of the game he chose to use and make it totally and completely his. Grinning wickedly, Nick rifled the pages as contorted plans to get back at the Royal Koopa Family took form in his head.

Nick considered Magic: The Gathering as his first option. The book did not detail the rules of the game, however, and they looked to be a bit complicated. Trying to verify it, Nick logged onto the Internet on his personal computer and found the company website of the makers. Getting a full version of the rules up took only a moment, but even he was blown away. It was like reading straight law! Not that he wasn't unaccustomed to it, but he wanted it simpler so that he would enrapture everyone on Plit, even those who he considered simpletons. No, it had to be simple enough so that, say, Larry could understand it. No, that game would not do.

Nick next considered Pokemon. It seemed as if it would do, but after looking at card lists, he was a bit confused at all of the duplicate names. They weren't reprints, but they weren't different creatures, either. The statistic of players listed in the book was rather low compared to some of the other ones, too, so it obviously couldn't hold as a fad. Nevertheless, it did look very good and he made a mental note to investigate it further when his plans had come to fruition.

He kept scanning minor card games on Earth that seemed short-lived, and none of them would do at all. He dismissed Dragonball Z as a brutish muscle-headed game immediately, and was a bit confused by Magi Nation and Yu Yu Hakusho. He had heard of the Lord of the Rings and had even read a bit of it, but to think that there would be a trading card game of it…! Just disrespectful.

Just when it seemed that nothing would suit his plans and he would have to scrap it before it even was built, he saw the last and largest section of the book, dedicated to a game called Duel Monsters, with a forward by the creator, Maxamillion Pegasus. As he read over the forward, he realized that the man was an intellectual like himself and didn't have a bad fashion sense from the portrait of him included, to boot. The game seemed rather numerically inclined, which he liked, and there was just the right amount of strategy involved, and he could see connections and possible combinations even as he read the cards. He virtually absorbed the rules with his mind, and he decided that it was the one. He noted the address of the company that made the cards and the location and wrote it on a slip of paper, slipping it into his shell. Nick, snickering at his devious (to himself, anyway) plans, grabbed his wand from the glass case and used a complex transport spell he had mastered to move himself to Earth in the Real World. Most people had to resort to using warp pipes, but Nick was highly proficient with his magic and did not need to use such layman methods. Appearing on the streets of San Francisco, he noted one thing he missed and quickly ducked into a side alley before he was seen and transformed himself into the form of a young, handsome human in a crisp suit.

'Disgusting creatures…' he thought, emerging from the alley. He concealed his wand in a clever pocket on the inside of his coat that made it look rather like a bunch of papers. Reading over the paper with the address one more time, he began his trek off to Industrial Illusions to put the first phase of his plan into earnest action.

The Industrial Illusions complex itself was rather large and the headquarters building was at least twenty stories tall, all afire in the California sun in glass and steel. Boldly marching up to the building, which he noted had a rather well-kept garden and courtyard, he tried to make himself seem imposing and unassuming at the same time, and it seemed to work given he was getting no excessive stares.

The receptionist, a young, wiry looking blonde girl with thin glasses, looked hard as steel. He had to figure out where Pegasus was, and get out before she noticed. Or perhaps, it might be better to let her think he was simply a client? Yes, that might be better, he decided, marching up to her desk and waiting for her to look up from her computer screen filled with names and percentages.

It did not take long; she was not at all pleased. "May I help you?" she asked in a voice not unlike a high-pitched version of Ludwig's. Her metallic eyes bored into Nick, demanding to know his business and trying to pry around, as if she was trying to remember him from somewhere.

"I am here to see Mr. Pegasus in his office, er, madam," replied Nick, hoping that was the proper English Earth protocol. The lady, not missing a beat, opened up a notebook with dates and times recorded and with a long, sharp fingernail found the current date. "I assume you have an appointment? Name please."

"Nick Koopa- you must have it down?" Now Nick was only trying to save face; he realized his mistake as soon as he gave his name. The lady's eyes, finding nothing that caught her eyes on that page, turned to the next… and found nothing still. Wrinkling her brow, she lifted her head back to Nick.

"I see no Mr. Koopa listed here- I've never seen you or heard your voice before. Why are you here?"

'Bother! This would happen,' thought Nick. He knew better than to pretend as if he was actually down and to play dumb- instead, he stroked the gem of his wand through his coat and willed hypnosis. Almost invisible, three transparent orange triangles came out of his coat and struck the lady directly in the forehead. Nick knew his spell took effect as a dopey expression crossed the lady's face.

"Of course my name is there. Just look again; I guarantee you will find it." The lady said nothing and looked back down at the book, then nodded at Nick, her glazed expression never leaving her features. "I thought so. Would you mind telling me, then, where I might find the office of Maxamillion Pegasus?"

"Top floor. Last door at end of hall. Shelly will let you in." That was it. Nick must have hit her a bit more strongly than intended. Without another word, he went off toward the elevators, remembering to cut off his spell when the doors had closed.

The top floor, which was lined with a royal blue carpet inlaid with crescent moons and stars, had only one door at the end of the hall, so Pegasus' office was fairly easy to locate. The secretary there gave a measure of resistance against his just barging in on Pegasus' office, but he decided to not waste any more time and he just took out his wand and made the woman fall into a dead faint.

The man Pegasus was sitting rather placidly at his desk, sipping a glass of wine and eating from a tray of gouda and water crackers as he looked over cards and papers strewed all over his desk. As Nick came in, however, he was rather startled.

"And who might you be? I'm not meeting any new clients or duelists today. Selling vacuums?" The man chuckled at his own feeble joke. Nick decided that all pleasantries had passed and he quickly waved his wand in front of himself to restore himself to proper form, shell and all.

"Mr. Pegasus. I am here to negotiate for the right to manufacture and receive utter profit from Duel Monster cards in my own world of Plit. Give me all of the cards and a printing plant. If you do not comply, I will be forced to do something that neither of us will like," said Nick, bringing his wand into full view. Contrary to what Nick was expecting, however, Pegasus just laughed, and laughed genuinely, as if there were a hysterically funny joke.

"Is that all? All you had to do was ask, you know. I'm ready to spread my game anywhere people want it. Now put away your toy before you hit yourself with it, little turtle-boy." A bit deflated as Pegasus was first speaking, Nick was again incensed at the notion his wand was a mere toy. Nick raised it into the air, leering at the silver-haired man as his wand glowed a bright blue and everything in the room except them flew up to meet the ceiling. He moved the large, heavy wooden desk over Pegasus' head.

"Don't force me to drop this. Anything else I should know?" Pegasus seemed composed, but Nick saw one of his eyes dart to the desk hovering above his head.

"No need to be violent about it. There is a way to build holographic dueling arenas, but I do not own that enterprise. Over on that shelf there is the complete compendium of strategies of Duel Monsters, written by yours truly. Now, where were you wanting your printing plant?"

'Holographic arenas? Ah, Ludwig can take care of that.' Amidst thoughts of glory and grandeur and ruling the Koopa Kingdom, Nick grinned maliciously. Now they were getting down to business!

Interlude - Duel Koopa Rules

For those of you who are Duel Monsters illiterate, here is a quick overview of how the card game works. (And for those who know the rules and recognize that I depart from them slightly, I am aware of this fact- these are only for this story.)

1. Numbers noted by a monster's name are the attack and defense rating of those monsters, in that successive order. Each rating only applies when a monster is in a certain mode. [i.e., Bumpty Penguin (1000/1800) does not have the 1800 defense when in attack mode.] When a monster is placed in attack mode, it is placed face-up in a vertical position. If in defense mode, it may be face-up or face down and must be placed horizontally.

2. One wins a duel by reducing the opponent's life points to zero. This is done by attacking with monsters, using Magic or Trap cards, or Monster card effects.

3. If one attacks with a monster that has a higher rating in attack than a monster that is in attack mode, the monster with the lower attack is destroyed and the remainder dealt to the opponent's life points. If one attacks a monster in defense mode with a monster that has higher attack, the monster is only destroyed and no life point damage is taken.

4. If one attacks with a monster that has a lower attack rating than another, the monster with the lower attack is destroyed and life point damage is dealt accordingly. The same applies for defense mode, except that the attacking monster is not destroyed.

5. A player has five Monster card slots and five Magic/Trap card slots in which to play cards. Once a zone is full, that player can't lay any more cards there unless one is discarded.

6. A player must place Trap cards face down and activate them later, but Magic cards may be face-up or face-down. If face-up they are activated immediately.

7. One may activate trap cards at any time, in response to almost any action, if the move is legal.

Chapter 1

A perfectly ordinary day in Castle Koopa. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, loud explosions were emanating from Ludwig's laboratory, Morton talking to every inanimate object in the immediate vicinity, Wendy throwing a tantrum, and Lemmy practicing a ball routine. Yes, a perfectly ordinary day it was in Castle Koopa.

However, almost every Koopaling and even Bowser himself rushed to their personal chambers after the mail came, for today was the day that their booster boxes for the new Duel Monsters card game finally came in. (The almost was Larry, who was going to see what his siblings were going to do with their cards before he made his deck and thus hid in the ductwork.) Lemmy had discovered the game while working on his website and had told of it to his siblings. From there, it had just spread throughout the castle like wildfire, and there was hardly a soul in the Mushroom or Koopa Kingdoms that had not at least heard of the game. Iggy and Lemmy barricaded themselves into their chamber to keep out Roy and put a sheet over the air ducts to Larry-proof their room before opening their box.

Lemmy and Iggy's fingers were quivering as they opened the packs of cards.

"Whoa! We got the Electric Dry Bones card! That's almost impossible to get, you know," said Iggy, grinning from ear to ear. Lemmy gave a knowing chuckle at what he received in his first pack. "What's so-"

"Funny?" ended Lemmy. "Oh, just that we got… this." Lemmy held up the card they had received in his last pack and Iggy's jaw dropped.

"Expert Magikoopa?! That's-"

"An Ultra Rare!" said Lemmy. "What luck! At this rate-"

"We'll never lose at all!"

"Yeah!" they both shouted in unison and continued to open their boosters.

Ludwig and Karma were taking an altogether different approach than Lemmy and Iggy. They were very carefully opening each booster and sorting the cards in front of them and making no comment on them except the occasional, "Zis is certainly powerful…" Ludwig was taking a liking to a deck comprised of incredibly powerful monsters with only a few base magic and trap cards in it, while Karma liked a deck of smaller monsters with many equipment cards. In particular, Ludwig took a liking to three monsters entitled "The White Dragon of the Blue Eyes".

Ludwig at first had only been interested in the game after a visit from Nick, when Nick had told him of an idea for holographic dueling arenas for the game, for he had at first dismissed it as a childish endeavor, but after learning of other holographic technologies Nick had found for similar card games, he readily agreed to design some for this game. It had been a secret from his siblings thus far. Ludwig actually planned to market his holographic technologies along with Nick's game and was planning to put the idea forth the next time Nick visited.

Finalizing their decks, Ludwig put the spare cards carefully in his room safe, doing the combination in a musical manner so that none of his barbaric siblings would ever guess it.

"I believe zat now vould be a good time to see vat Lemmy and Iggy are doing," remarked Ludwig, snickering in that odd laugh of his.

"I already bet ten coins with Roy that you'd lose your first match." Karma watched with satisfaction as dangerous red tongues of flame gathered near Ludwig's one prominent tooth.

"And if I win?" She shrugged, amused.

"Then I'll can-can dance in front of all the guards for tonight."

"I vill bring ze video camera…" Ludwig stormed out of the room, feeling insulted and evil.

Larry, having had no luck in spying out his sibling's cards because all of them had gotten the idea of "Cheatsy-proofing" their rooms, had returned to his own room to look at his box.

"Wow… this looks like a pretty strong monster!" he remarked, looking at the Blade Piranha (1700/1500 in his first pack. "And a plant, too! I know what I'll be using…" To his disappointment, no more plant monsters were in that pack, so he turned to the next one and the next, looking for any and all plant monsters he could come across, throwing them all into a pile, haphazardly throwing all Magic and Trap cards to the side. After going through the entire box he had managed to create an entirely plant deck, but he failed to notice one very important detail…

"Now I have the ultimate deck of plant monsters!"

Iggy and Lemmy were just finishing cleaning up their spare cards and putting them in safe storage when a knock came at the door. Assuming it was Roy, they quickly backed against the barricade so whoever was trying to force their way in could not get their deck.

"Let me in zis door now or I vill burn it down!" came the angry shout of Ludwig as he slammed against the doorframe for the seventh time.

"Oh!" exclaimed the twins, hastily clearing away their barricade and getting the room back in order. Ludwig waited for no invitation, however, and rammed the door open… slightly squashing Iggy.

"Lemmy! Iggy! I have a challenge for ze two of you! Meet me in ze castle courtyard in zirty minutes vith your deck. Any qvestions?" Lemmy turned to Iggy, who was out cold.

"Do you think you could get some smelling salts for Iggy first?"


As the sun was setting it cast an almost surreal and powerful glow upon the castle courtyard where Ludwig and the Koopa Twins stood poised on a cobblestone expanse, eying each other before their duel. The entire family had assembled- Bowser had had his throne carried out so he could sit in luxury while the rest stood. Wendy was tapping her foot, impatient to begin, Larry was sitting placidly on the grass, Morton was yammering on about his battle predictions and who the obvious victor of the battle was going to be (he never did mention who it would be), and Roy was covering his ears from Morton's incessant diatribe. Clawdia was cheering for all three of her sons to do their best.

Finally, it was Lemmy who broke the eerie stare. "Why did you bring us out here just to duel, Kooky? Aren't we-"

"A little far apart for that?" continued Iggy.

"I vas vondering ven you might zay zat." Ludwig produced a small radio from his shell and muttered something into it. As soon as he had stashed it once more, the ground began to rumble and shake ever so slightly, and all but Ludwig looked around, startled. Ludwig simply stood there and laughed.

"I haff come to reveal to you my latest creation!" The cobblestones underneath them began to give way. Suddenly, Lemmy and Iggy realized that the ground in front of them was hinged! They leaped back to avoid falling in the hole that was expanding outward; slowly but surely, guided by three Magikoopas and a Lakitu, a massive rectangular structure was rising out of the ground. It had one red platform on one side and a blue on the other, while the middle was a dark gray metal with the black painted letters LVK-01. The Magikoopas were using their wands to keep things under control as four arms, two attached to each of the colored platforms, arose above the stadium and folded outward to reveal what looked like solar panels. The panels shone with a plethora of colors, and not just because they were catching the light of the setting sun, which had all but gone down over the horizon. After the… thing had completed its ascent, the Magikoopas and Lakitu quickly vacated the courtyard.

Ludwig was still laughing that odd laugh of his. "Zis is ze holographic dueling arena zat I haff created and vill be marketing. You vill not prevail against me no matter vat cards you may haff received. My first victims! Whaoh whaoh whaoh! Now, climb!"

At Ludwig's statement, though all were impressed by the ascent of the arena, there was a division among the spectators. Bowser was cheering for Ludwig, as were Roy and Morton, Clawdia remained neutral, while the rest shouted out their support for the Twins. The three mounted the ladders on the side of the platforms with their decks, Ludwig on the red and the Twins on the blue, but when they got to the top, Ludwig shook a claw.

"Ah, ah, double teaming, now? Only vone of you may duel me." The twins looked disappointed and held a quick conference, but they nodded in unison and Iggy descended the ladder and joined the bystanders.

"Set lifepoints!" shouted Ludwig. The arena immediately displayed 2000 on screens shown to the spectators, and the display also was brought up on the screen displaying all cards in play, with the names of both duelists. Ludwig took his six cards and the initiative.

"I play ze Goomba Giant (1200/1000) in Attack Mode!" To the astonishment of all bystanders, a gigantic brown-skinned Goomba materialized out of seemingly nowhere and even made growling and snapping motions at Lemmy. Lemmy seemed rather unimpressed, however. "Zat vill be all."

Leaning forward on his ball, Lemmy took a card from his deck, then grinned. "Kooky, you seem to forget that monster is rather weak. It will fall easily to my Bumpty Penguin (1000/1800)!" Lemmy laid the card down onto the monster card slot and a rather small blue penguin, much smaller than the Goomba Giant, appeared on Lemmy's side of the field.

Ludwig blinked. Had Lemmy lost his head, or was this a ploy? "Sibling of mine, vat do you think zat you vill accomplish vith zat zing?" Lemmy smiled. Ludwig was playing into his trap. "Goomba Giant, attack ze Penguin!" The enormous brown creature took a leap into the air and was coming down upon Bumpty when Lemmy made his next move.

"Rubber Machine!" A myriad of green starred balls, much like Lemmy's, began to pour out of the magic slots and surround Lemmy's penguin. The Goomba finally landed, grinning like a bloodthirsty maniac. ("That shouldn't be how a Giant Land citizen acts!" muttered Iggy.) However, to Ludwig's astonishment, it bounced off of the balls and was sent flying back to his own side of the field. It was thoroughly good that it was only a hologram, or else Ludwig might have been squashed. The Bumpty Penguin appeared unharmed out of the balls, which sank back into the ground.

"Don't forget, Kooky, I was a Lord in the Koopa Trading Card Game, so I'm as tricky as they come. Rubber Machine stops your attack and increases my own attack and defense for the next turn by 400. So now I'll attack you with Bumpty Penguin!" The little bird waddled forward, began to slide on its belly, and finally, reaching the Goomba, stuck it with its beak, causing it to moan in pain. Ludwig's holograms really were quite convincing. However, as Lemmy was beginning to think he was safe, the Giant Goomba brought a massive foot down onto his Penguin, defeating it before it exploded. Ludwig watched angrily as his life point counter declined while Lemmy scratched his head.

Lemmy: 2000
Ludwig: 1800


"It is easy, dear sibling of mine. One might say zat my arena is a bit more… realistic zan the card game vould be otherwise. By attacking me, you failed to note zat ze Goomba's size vas so massive and could and did squish your Bumpty Penguin like a bug. And I draw…" Ludwig grinned wickedly at what he drew, but he decided he would lead Lemmy on a bit first.

"I vill put out three companion cards! I play Doomship Cannon (0/1700) in Defense Mode, ze Magic card Doomship Flamethrower, and ze Trap Card Doomship Screw!" The three implements appeared on Ludwig's arena, the barrel of the cannon facing Lemmy menacingly. The other two simply stood there. Amongst the spectators there was some muttering.

"What does that cotton-head think he's doing?" muttered Roy.

"I have no clue, but knowing Ludwig, it's probably something… not so good, I'll just say that," remarked Larry.

"Yes, Ludwig can definitely win because he has created an impenetrable defense that Lemmy will never be able to break through with his deck that he and Iggy created together and I doubt that even my deck which I took great pains to create, make, capture the essence thereof by having my monsters be as strong as possi- mghghph!" Roy clamped his hand over Morton's mouth so that they could hear the action on the field.

Ludwig was taking a laugh break. "Together zese three implements are unstoppable! In two turns, zey vill summon an entire doomship to do my dueling for me! And zat is not all! Vatch now!" Ludwig's doomship cannon fired a Bullet Bill (1000/500) backwards, whereupon it flew through Ludwig's Flamethrower and was sent spiraling by his screw. "Each turn I can and vill create zese Flaming Screw Bills (1700/1500) for me, and zey cannot be harmed by physical or magical attacks! I cannot attack you since I fired my weapon, so it vill now be your turn, dear brother."

"Brilliant dueling, Kooky! You really do have a nice combo there."

"Flattery vill get you novhere." Lemmy sighed and drew. Not what he needed, but it could stall for a while.

"Expert Magikoopa (2500/2100) in Attack Mode!" The figure, rather tall for a Magikoopa, materialized out of the arena in purple and black robes with an abnormally long wand. His glasses were sloped, giving the impression of rage; Kamek was rather proud that he himself modeled for the image of this particular monster. "I'll end with one card face-down behind him."

"You just brought yourself vone step closer to defeat!" shrieked Ludwig maniacally. Down among the spectators, Karma was shaking her head at Ludwig, and Larry was beginning to find that he quite agreed with her. Ludwig laid down a Doomship Rotational Cannon (0/2000), also in defense mode, and ordered that it fired off two rounds into the air. The whirring of propeller blades was beginning to emanate from the stadium, to which Lemmy showed some concern. Ludwig ended by creating another Flaming Screw Bill, which hovered in front, awaiting his command. With a maddeningly superior smirk, he motioned for Lemmy to go.

'He must be planning something big, something I can't block,' thought Lemmy. 'I'll try to build up a large defense, then I can try to get him with Trap cards… or is he expecting that? So maybe I should go on the offensive… No, he would want that. So, I'll just have to be defensive and… Argh! I'm going in circles, I'm just going to defend.'

"I shift Expert Magikoopa into Defense Mode…" The figure on the arena crouched down and began to mutter incantations to keep away malicious forces, but Ludwig just started to laugh.

"You could haff had zis had you attacked! For vhen you shift or place vone of your monsters into ze Defensive position, my Rotational Cannon automatically fires upon zhem!" Lemmy mentally slapped himself; he should have expected something like that coming from Ludwig. Ludwig's cannon in turn fired four volleys, one from each barrel, directly at Lemmy's Magikoopa, nearly simultaneously. However, Lemmy's Magikoopa only was able to stop a single cannonball with its spells, as of the time incomplete. The rest contacted Lemmy, doing 500 points of damage each.

Lemmy: 500
Ludwig: 1800

"Unfortunately, my cannon must reload until next turn, so its defense has dropped to minimal levels." (0/0) "I vill gladly take my turn now… your final turn, dear sibling!"

"You wish Ludwig!"

"I know." Ludwig drew his card and immediately the whirring of propeller blades became even louder. All of the Koopas looked up and saw a doomship descending. Many began to panic, but Ludwig calmed them.

"Zat is only a hologram! Be calm- but not you Lemmy, for zat doomship, my doomship, ze Amadeus, carries my three most powerful monsters! Release zem and come out now, my precious Blue-Eyes Vhite Dragons (3000/2500)!" The doomship opened up a hole in its cargo hold, and descending gracefully from it were three gargantuan dragons, each with glimmering scales and enormous mouths; they circled the arena overhead, eying Lemmy. Lemmy and Iggy's eyes became the size of dinner plates, and Lemmy was unable to speak. Iggy piped up from the spectator area.

"Kooky! Do you have any idea what you have there?" he shouted, excited and shaken.

"Vhat do you mean, Iggy?"

"There were only ever four Blue-Eyes White Dragons released- you have three of them! Ludwig, you have the second rarest card in Duel Monsters!" Ludwig pondered that. Well, it certainly did fit his image as most regal of the Koopa Princes. How fitting he should have all of them, save one.

"Who has ze final?"

"No one is sure," replied Iggy. The other Koopalings were looking at Ludwig's dragons wistfully, especially Roy. Ludwig shot him a look of daring, and turned back to the duel as Lemmy was waving his hands.

"Um… hello? We are still playing here, right?"

"I'm aware of zat! My dragons, my cannons, my Amadeus, my Flaming Screw Bills, attack him now!" As all the creatures in turn let loose their attacks, things looked bleak, and a cloud of smoke was produced when they hit. However, when it hit, Lemmy's life points were still intact, and he was still standing… but what was that shimmering in front of him?

He smirked. "You aren't the only one with a very rare Duel Monsters card, Kooky. Remember that Trap I laid a few turns earlier? I have the rare Mirror Force! Mirror Force… well, perhaps I should just let you see what it does for yourself." Ludwig was about to ask what Lemmy was up to, but did not get a chance as all of the attacks his creatures had fired were sent rebounding by an unseen force back to their attackers. The Flaming Screw Bills had exploded in their kamikaze strike, but the rest, cannonballs, energy blasts, fireballs, and lasers, all went flying back to their original source. Ludwig watched aghast and the spectators watched, amazed, as all of his dragons incinerated themselves, the cannons exploded in a spectacular light show, and the doomship was sent plummeting… right onto Ludwig.

"No!" he screamed as the replica of his beloved doomship crashed into him, depleting him of the last of his life points and ending the match.

Lemmy: 500
Ludwig: 0

Iggy caught Lemmy's ball as he threw it down, descending the ladder. As was honorable, Ludwig went and shook hands with Lemmy.

"Vhell played… Lemmy. I vish to do zat again sometime."

"The same here! You're not half bad."

"Bad? I am ze best!" Without waiting for a reply to that silly quote, Ludwig turned around to see Karma and Morton congratulating him… on his loss. Roy was kicking the ground, not daring to kick his siblings when his mother was around.

"Thanks, Kooky. Thought you were gonna win that with your dragons, but I'm glad you whiffed it; I'm ten coins richer!" Ludwig did not reply to that, either, except with a blast of flame.

Nick Koopa, having set cameras around Castle Koopa in secret two years ago, had watched the entire match from his room in Sub-con Castle. He smirked. Both cousins were good, very good… they would be just perfect, and none would suspect, particularly not trusting Ludwig.

Chapter 2: Fateful Choices

After that first eventful duel between Ludwig and Lemmy, the two eldest Koopalings did not duel again, but they were quite occupied in that manner nonetheless. Larry's deck was easily the most pathetic, and he had not once won. As Iggy and Larry were finishing up their duel one day, Iggy finally figured out why.

"Expert Magikoopa now has the Fire Flower equipped to him, giving him fire magic. I automatically destroy all plant cards on the field with Grass Land Fires, leaving you wide open to my attack. Game."

Iggy: 2000
Larry: 0

"No!" screamed the youngest Koopaling, for what had to be the seventeenth time in a row. "I'm supposed to have the best possible deck! Why on earth am I not winning?"

"Larry, I didn't see you play a single Magic or Trap card that entire match. Are there any even in your deck?" Larry looked a bit sheepish.

"No… I wanted to have my deck be filled with powerful plant monsters, and that's it."

"Larry! You can't possibly win if you don't use any Magic or Trap cards. I just beat you with a Magic card! What were you thinking?" Iggy seemed to want to burst out laughing.

"I'm not sure… I suppose I was a little too excited when I got my box. Would you or Lemmy come help me modify my deck?"

"Sure thing, Larry. But you have to promise me that you won't steal any of my cards. Ever." Larry grimaced.

"Alright, alright- don't have a cow. Thanks."

Aside from such occurrences as these, Nick had also come to the castle to negotiate with Ludwig about the holographic dueling arenas and possibly some future plans for them. The two signed a contract that allowed Nick to manufacture the arenas, but with 25 percent of the profit going to Ludwig, and indirectly to Larry (of course, neither would know about that until it was too late). All seemed right and normal. As for Bowser and Clawdia, well, they never really got the gist of the game and gave their cards to the staff and guards as salary.

By about the end of the first week of duels, the standings looked like this:
1. Lemmy/Iggy (Undefeated)
2. Ludwig (1 loss)
3. Karma (3 losses)
4. Morton (7 losses)
5. Roy (9 losses)
6. Wendy (14 losses)
7. Larry (17 losses- new deck)

Things went back into a fairly normal routine after the initial novelty of the cards had worn off. It was about three weeks after the initial day they had received the boxes when the fateful day arrived…

Ludwig was in the library doing some research (he had been having difficulty creating a solution that would transfer magical energies from one person to another) when he heard a pair of resonating screams echo throughout the castle. He and the rest of his siblings rushed together in a mad throng in the hallway to find out what was going on, and found the source of the disturbance when they saw the gaggle of Goombas and Koopa Troopas gathered in the antechamber of the throne room, staring aghast at something. It was certain that the Koopalings were not expecting what they encountered.

Nick was standing in the throne room, with a distinct air of triumph about him. Right away all knew he was up to no good. In his hand he grasped two duel monster cards. In the other, he grasped his wand. He turned to the throng, and the Koopalings all stiffened. They were not in the least comforted when Nick began to burst out laughing.

"My cousins…" he began. He was immediately in no uncertain terms told to quickly get to the point by Roy pounding his fists together. "I see you hold terms of animosity toward me. Well, you really need not worry you know. This is all for the good of the Koopa Kingdom…"

"Vat?! Stop speaking nonsense! Vat haff you done? Vat haff you done to endanger ze security of ze Koopa Kingdom?!" Ludwig was livid; blue flames licked around his prominent tooth. He sensed somehow that Nick had done something far beyond anything he had undertaken before, and it was not beyond him to try for the throne of the Koopa Kingdom. And the smoking wand was the giveaway that he had done just that.

"Never too long-winded, are we Kooky? Don't want to be like Morton now, there's a good cousin…" Nick broke off in snickers at his own joke. The Koopalings were getting enraged at this, but none said anything or brought forth accusations because they did not know what he had done. "Well, don't you worry about Mummy and Daddy. I have them right here, safe in my hands." Nick turned the cards around to them, eliciting a stunned silence. It couldn't be possible! No! What was Nick trying to prove?!

"Get real, palate-head! What are ya here for?" grumbled Roy, trying to save face even now. Roy met with a magical slap from Nick's wand, which knocked him senseless.

"If you want to get Mummy and Daddy back, then you will come to the place where I tell you to go. If not…" Nick held his claws dangerously close to puncturing the cards, to which everyone tensed. "I am hosting a Duel Monsters tournament on Yoshi's Island. Should you want 'King Dad' and your mother back, you will attend and you will win against me…"

"I've had enough of him! Let's just blast him to Kingdom Come!" shouted Wendy. She and the other Koopalings (minus Roy), who had been awaiting just such an opportunity, procured their wands and shot out blasts of pure, unfashioned magical energy at Nick. Nick, however, was rather nonplussed and simply took a card out of his shell and waved his wand at it, and all the energy they had fired was immediately absorbed- into Nick's wand.

"I wouldn't do that again, if I were you. Be at Yoshi's Island in 24 hours, or you won't be able to even enter. Be grateful, because I wouldn't do this for just anyone." Nick smirked. Oh, yes he would! What fools! "Take these as well, all you who will duel." Nick waved his wand and out of it shot many polygonal shapes, which materialized into five odd-looking gloves.

"Nick! Enough of zis! I vill tear you limb from limb if you do not stop zis nonsense right now!" Nick frowned. Ludwig was the one who was standing in his way of the throne, and it didn't look like he was going to take the bait after all.

"We will duel in time, Kooky- now is not that time. I'm not giving you any other chances. You'll come to your father's birthplace to duel for his life- or else he will die in that very same place!"

Nick had won out. None of the Koopalings could chance angering him right now, so they said nothing. They merely scooped up the gloves on the floor, giving Nick looks of pure, unadulterated poison. Nick laughed and created a blue rift in the floor with his wand, into which he jumped and sealed.

Unsure of themselves, the Koopalings muttered things to each other, while Ludwig stood at their head, staring at the floor. It was generally agreed that Ludwig would be the leader of the Koopas should something ever happen to Bowser, and this was indeed that time. Larry went up to Ludwig and said, "Brother… what are we gonna do?"

"Vhat is zere for it? Ve vill go to Yoshi's Island… Ve vill have to beat Nick at his own game. And vhen ve do, I vill take his traitorous neck and…"

"Who's dueling? I for one think that it should definitely be me because I have rather a lot of wins and-"

"Morton, now is not the time for that!" yelled Lemmy, serious for once. Morton, startled at the display, piped down.

"Ve vill decide zat later. You and you, go get ze Amadeus ready for departure!" Ludwig motioned toward the mob of minions still standing there, in particular two Paratroopas he often assigned to such duties. "You! Goombas! Carry Roy to ze doomship vhen it is prepared!

"Now, siblings, I suggest zat you go and pack anything zat you deem you need to take along. Go, get your cards." Ludwig was rather like a machine now, working mechanically, his mind totally elsewhere.

'Nick… I trusted you. It figures that you would do this now. I'll show you the wrath of the Koopa Royal Family, and when I am done, you will wish that all of the Mushroom Kingdom is upon you, rather than my own strength.'

The Amadeus was already en route to Yoshi's Island, drifting along as fast as the course would hold. Ludwig had already called another conference of his siblings to decide the matter of what should be done. They sat in the large conference room used for wartime deliberations with Ludwig and Karma at the head of the table, and around him had positioned themselves according to age. Once all together, Ludwig cleared his throat and spoke.

"We all haff our decks, I hope?" Some nodded, some raised their hand, Lemmy raised his up and Roy yawned, unconcerned about that. Ludwig glared at Roy. "Roy, you haff your deck?"

"Yeah, I got it cotton-head." Ignoring that remark, Ludwig went on.

"We haff come to ze rather difficult decision zat must take place to ensure our victory in our endeavors. As we only haff five 'dueling gloves', as zey shall be named, and I haff decided upon four duelists already, ze fact remains zat a fifth must be chosen. Lemmy, Iggy, please come up here." Rising from their seats, the twins rolled and meandered up to the front of the room, taking places behind Ludwig and Karma.

"In order to know which of us is ze best suited, ve vill be having a mock-tournament here in zis room to decide who vill fill ze fifth slot. You vill all duel one of us, and after ze match, ze one who did ze best vill get ze glove. Karma, the pairings." Karma stood and held up a paper with four randomly assigned names on it, in a Yoshian script that only she among them could read.

"Bully versus Hop; Big Mouth versus Kooky; Kootie Pie versus Hip, and Cheatsy versus moi," said Karma, using the nicknames she so knew that they hated. The Koopalings all took their places at the table, rearranging themselves so that they seated across from each of their opponents. Larry sat across from Karma nervously. She seemed not to care. Taking a coin passed down the table, she tossed it into the air.

"Call it."

"Starman!" The coin spun around on the tabletop for a moment, then landed on a Starman. "I'll go first then."

"Do what you want, o great one," she shot back. Both rolling their eyes, they drew.

'Not a bad hand…' thought Larry. "Spiked Fungus (800/100) in defense mode!" shouted out Larry. He noticed that all around him, everyone was looking at him quizzically. "Er… guess I was used to the holographic arenas." He breathed a sigh of relief when everyone turned back to their own game.

"Is that all?"


"My turn, then. Oh, two cards face down and Esoteric Mouser (1550/1400) in attack mode. I'll attack your Spiked Fungus."

"You lose life points."

"Eh? What was that?"

"When Spiked Fungus is destroyed, it inflicts 500 points of damage to my opponent for every 1000 attack points over its defense that it takes, but only when it's in defense mode. I can also play another one from my hand if I have it, which I do."

Larry: 2000
Karma: 1500

"Clever move, Cheatsy."

"Er… guess I should say thanks." There was a slight pause.

"Go! I'm waiting and we ain't got all day!"

"Oh!" gasped Larry, drawing again. "I'll set Blade Piranha in attack mode and attack Esoteric Mouser."

"I activate Grippable Hookshot! And, because Esoteric Mouser gets a bonus of 500 attack points from any and all equip cards, it further raises its attack by 500 points in addition to the 500 it would have normally. Oh, DAD, I'm starting to sound like Morton…" said Karma. Larry took his card off the field and calculated the damage to his life points.

Larry: 1150
Karma: 1500

"I'll end with, er, two cards face down."

"My draw… Larry, sorry, but I just won. Mace Guy (1400/1000) in defense mode. I'm using the effect of Mace Guy to sacrifice it and my Esoteric Mouser to inflict 1200 points of direct damage to you. Game."

"Nope- I'm awfully glad that I put this card in here now. Trap of Board Eraser! It negates direct damage to me by effects, and forces you to discard a card from your hand to the graveyard."

"Should have expected something like that from you… you little cheat… I activate my facedown trap Mushroom Guard Ambush, which destroys your Spiked Fungi as well!" Larry was surprised. Karma was letting her anger get the better of her.

"My turn then?"

"Yes…" Larry looked over his cards. Nothing would end the game immediately here, so he would try for a little waiting game instead.

"Since I'm not allowed to attack you directly right now, I'll summon this Chuckola Fruit (500/200) in defense mode, and when I do I can put down a Chuckola Soda Barrel Magic Card from my hand, which raises its defense by 2500 points. Next, I'll lay one card face-down to end my turn."

"Then, I'll go already! Sheesh! You take too long. Jungle Shy Guy Dart Blower (800/1500) in attack mode, and I'll equip it with Sledge Brother's Hammer and Spiny Spine, in total raising its attack to 2500."

"What? My defense is 2700 points." Larry realized. She must have a way to win!

"I'll lay down the magic card Shrink Spell! It decreases the attack and defense of all your monsters on the field by 500 for one turn, which should be more than enough." By now, all the other matches in the room had ended, leaving the rather heated duel between Larry and Karma to their full attention. "I'm attacking!"

"I activate the trap card Magical Tulip! I destroy one of your attacking monsters to search through my deck for any monster or magic card that I wish and put it into my hand." Karma was seething as Larry took his time looking for the card he needed. Then, she seemed to realize why they were dueling in the first place. She seemed to mellow out a bit.

"I'm done… nothing else I can do."

"I'll play the card I just got, Chuckola Reserve Gargantua (2300/2100)! And, I'll destroy my Chuckola Fruit to gain 1000 life points from my soda's effect."

Larry: 2150
Karma: 1500

"I believe that I just won, Karma… sorry. I use the Reserve's second effect to give you 500 life points, and take away 2000 of my own to deal 2000 to your lifepoints."

"Vhat? Let me see zat card, Larry," broke in Ludwig. Larry handed his older sibling the card, and Ludwig's eyes widened when he saw its power. It must have had at least 12 lines of text on it to compensate for everything, and what Larry just did certainly was legal. "Karma, my brother is correct. He has von."

Larry: 150
Karma: 0

"Vould you mind, Lemmy, Iggy, if I had a conference vith you? Now?" Ludwig's tone suggested no other course of action be taken. They huddled into a corner of the room, muttering anxiously. Roy seemed rather jealous to say the least and smacked Larry in the back of the head with considerable force for winning his match. Finally, the conference was over and Ludwig was ready to announce the winner, holding the gloves in his right hand.

"Ze fifth duelist for ze embarkation to Yoshi's Island vill be Larry!" With a flourish, he gave out the gloves to Iggy, Lemmy, Karma, Larry, and lastly to himself. Karma rolled her eyes at Ludwig's corny dramatics. The chosen Koopalings gathered up their cards and put on the gloves with looks of determination.

"Now! Off to bed vith all of you! Ve haff a big day ahead, and ve must be at peak condition. No arguments!" Some Koopalings groaned, and Wendy snickered at how her older brother sounded like an old matron. All that was silenced, however, when Ludwig started breathing fire.

"Get going!"

"You can't do this to us!"

"I'll have your head for this, rribit!" Nick smirked in a diabolical way that only he was capable of.

"I can do this and I will, dear father. I'm sending you out on the island with the other eliminators, and you will be successful, or I won't let you back into the castle. If you want the Koopa Kingdom under my- er- your… claw, then, you'll go out and duel! Now, don't make me drop you onto the island from all the way up here!" He brandished his wand, which immediately made the two figures, the small girl and the lumbering oaf, dash out the door. For, that was all Nick thought of them, and he cared not for family.

'I'll have the throne yet, as it should have been mine to start with, and soon all your children will know your fate. You'll have a lot of company in a box at the bottom of the sea.' Nick glared angrily at Bowser, who he now held in his very hands, wanting so very much to rip the card up. But, he knew he could not if he wanted full revenge. He would wait. He would bide his time.

He would have some fun first.

Read on!

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