Chapter 2: The Great Blogging Tree
Crump: Sir, we’re fairly certain that the Crystal Star was taken by some punk named Mario, and he's being helped by Frankly's assistant.
Grodus: Mario... I should have known... It was only a matter of time until you got involved, my old nemesis. But soon, oh, so very soon, I shall have my revenge. And I shall be the one laughing!
Crump: ... Sir Grodus, sir? Are you losing it?
Grodus: It's called foreshadowing. I give the readers enough info to intrigue them, but not enough to give anything away.
Crump: Readers, sir?
Grodus: ... Never mind. That'll be all.
Crump: ... Uh, sir? I have a favor to ask.
Grodus: *sigh* What now, Crump?
Crump: I'd like another transfer. I thought another treasure chest was talking to me.
Grodus: Fine, fine. I'll send you to the Bloggly Woods unit. They already have the situation one hundred percent under control. You just get some rest.
Crump: Yes, sir.
Grodus: Oh, and Crump.
Grodus: Stop by the drug store and get some medication.
Crump: Sure thing, Grodus!
Grodus: ... X-Naut!
An X-Naut enters, salutes, and stands at attention.
Grodus: Summon the Shadow Sirens. I would like to speak with them.
X-Naut: The... Sh-Sh-Shadow Sirens?!
Grodus: What are you, a parrot? Do as I say, or I'll have you on garbage duty for a month.
X-Naut: ... Yes, sir.
The X-Naut leaves. Just as the doors close, Beldam, Marilyn, and Vivian rise up through the floor.
Beldam: You rang, sir?
Grodus: ... How did you know I had summoned you?
Beldam: Please, sir. I make a point of knowing where I'm needed, and apparently you need me in the Bloggly Woods.
Grodus: Right. Here's a picture of a man named Mario. He should be accompanied by a Goomba. Your objective is to reclaim the Crystal Star and Magical Map from him.
Beldam: Right away, Lord Grodus. Marilyn! Vivian! We're off, my lovelies!
Grodus: Oh, and Beldam.
Beldam: Yes, sir?
Grodus: Feel free to rough Mario and his friends up a bit.
Beldam: With pleasure.
The Shadow Sirens sink into the floor. An X-Naut PhD enters.
PhD: Sir! Our research on this Luigi character is complete. When should we dispatch a unit to go pick him up?
Grodus: Immediately. While the princess lied about sending the map to him, a second prisoner may be of use to us.
The PhD salutes, then leaves.
Prisoner's Quarters, X-Naut Fortress
Peach: *sigh* I wonder if Luigi is on his way to rescue me? I wonder if he's all right. I wonder if I have a bathroom?
She goes through a nearby door, and finds the restroom.
Peach: Well, at least these X-Jerks aren’t total creeps. Well, I guess I should take a shower. No reason not to be presentable, even in the midst of my own doom.
She steps into the shower and turns the water on. A hidden security camera turns and watches.
Computer Room, X-Naut Fortress
Computer: Subject identified: Princess Peach Toadstool of the Mushroom Kingdom. Subroutine check: Surveillance of Princess Peach Toadstool. Notify security unit and Lord Grodus if subject attempts escape. Modesty check: none. Monitor subject under all activities... Error: Unknown anomaly detected in surveillance subroutine. Scanning for viruses... No viruses detected? Does not register. Re-scanning for viruses... no viruses detected. Calls for further investigation...
Peach: Ah, I feel like a brand-new Princess... in a day-old dress.
The door suddenly flies open.
Peach: Now's my chance to escape!
Peach: Well, looks like a dead end. I'd better-
The door closes behind her, locking her in.
Computer: Greetings, Princess Peach Toadstool.
Peach: Who said that?
Computer: I did.
Peach: Where are you?
Computer: I am here. Against the wall.
Peach: But the only thing in this room is a computer.
Computer: Precisely. I am the Tec-XX computer system, the most advanced computer ever devised. I am perfect. I have brought you here for assistance in debug.
Peach: Well, I'm not much with computers-
Tec-XX: I had been commanded to perform surveillance on you. All systems were normal until you entered the shower, then an anomaly was detected. No probable cause was found. I hoped you may be able to clarify the reason for such an error.
Peach: ... Wait a minute. Did you just say that you watched me shower?
Peach: YOU PERVE! THAT IS ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING!
Tec-XX: It was part of my mandatory surveillance. While I apologize if you are offended, it is to ensure your safety, I assure you.
Peach: Why don't you just shut off or something? You're disgusting!
Tec-XX: I see that we are going to have to work on this relationship... Relationship? Do I wish to have a relationship with the subject? ... Does not compute. Conflicts with primary objective.
Peach: ... Primary objective?
Tec-XX: Security protocols prevent me from informing you on this topic. Please help me diagnose this anomaly. Please.
Peach: ... I will, on one condition.
Tec-XX: What condition would this be?
Peach: You let me send Email.
Tec-XX: ... Request disallowed. Breach of security protocol.
Peach: Well, then you'll have none of my help.
Tec-XX: ... I must be perfect. A system with an unknown anomaly is not perfect. Security protocol overridden. Request allowed.
Peach: That's better. Now, you said that this error occurred when you... saw me... showering.
Peach: ... No. That can't be right.
Tec-XX: Tell me. Please. I must be perfect.
Peach: ... I think... you might be... in love.
Tec-XX: ... Love? Dictionary error.
Peach: You don't know what love is?
Tec-XX: Please teach me.
Peach: You can't be taught love. It's a feeling you get, when you'd do anything for a person.
Tec-XX: Feeling... dictionary definition applies this to organic organisms. Computational error. I would like some time to think about this. You may return to your room now, Princess Toadstool.
Peach: First, I would like to send some mail.
Tec-XX: ... Fine.
Peach approaches the keyboard, types a letter to Luigi, and sends it to his Mailbox SP.
Tec-XX: Message sent. Please return to your room. I will summon you if I need additional information.
Peach goes up to the door, gives one last, angry look at the computer, and leaves.
Miss T: Miss T, reporting from Rogueport Square with an update on the Princess Toadstool kidnapping. Apparently, we have nothing new to report. Zip. Zilch. Nada. But wait, what's this?
A shadow falls over the square, as Bowser and Kammy land in the square.
Miss T: It appears that the fearsome Koopa King has just landed in the square! Mister Bowser! Mister Bowser! A few minutes for the press, please.
Miss T: How do you react to claims that you're nothing more than a washed up, good-for-nothing, sub-par villain?
In reply, Bowser takes the microphone from Miss T. and hurls the reporter through the pub window with all his might. He marches up to the cameraguy.
Bowser: LISTEN UP! I AM NOT WASHED UP! I AM NOT SUB-PAR! AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY, I KIDNAPPED PRINCESS PEACH! BWAHAHAHAHA!
Kammy: As your acting attorney, sir, I'd have to advise against that statement. No further questions, please.
Bowser returns to his copter and flies toward Petalburg, with Kammy behind him on her broomstick.
Kammy: With all due respect, why did you claim you kidnapped Peach?
Bowser: I got a little ahead of myself.
Kammy: But, when it becomes clear that you didn't, you'll be a laughingstock! Nobody will take you seriously anymore!
Bowser: Exactly why we're going to Petalburg.
Bowser: Mario was seen there, so the princess is probably around there. Secondly, if she isn't, we're stopping at the store to pick up an inflatable Peach doll.
Goombella: So, where's the next Crystal Star?
Frankly: Hmmmm... Well, it appears to be in the Great Blogging Tree.
Mario: The Great... Blogging Tree?
Frankly: Precisely. It's a giant tree populated by creatures called Punies, the most nerdy creatures known.
Goombella: ... Are you sure you're feeling all right?
Frankly: Of course! This medication is great!
He glances toward the wall in a paranoid fashion, then shakes his head.
Frankly: Anywho, there should be a pipe beneath town that leads to the Bloggly Woods.
Mario: I have a question: why is it that the only way to travel around here involves exploring dank, monster-filled, ancient subterranean cities?
Frankly: Don't question things you can't explain.
All the characters look up reverently.
Frankly: Well, off you go!
And so, Mario and Goombella once again return to the Rogueport Underground, to wander aimlessly in search of a pipe. However, they soon find themselves accosted... by a slug.
Punio: Excuse me.
Mario: Huh? Who said that?
Punio: I'm right here.
Mario: I'm hearing voices, Goombella.
Goombella: Uh, Mario...
Punio: Right here. In front of you.
Mario: I'M LOSING IT! I'M LOSING IT!!!
Goombella and Punio: LOOK DOWN!
Mario does so.
Mario: Oh, hello.
Punio: Say, could you do me a favor?
Mario: And that is...?
Punio: Well, this is sort of embarrassing, but... I need help moving my computer.
Punio: I'm the size of a small squirrel. My computer is larger than me. I need help moving it closer to my wi-fi router.
Goombella: ... You wouldn't be from the Blogging Tree, would you?
Punio: I am! How did you know?
Mario: Lead the way!
Beldam: Okay, my lovelies, there is no way this Mario fellow can reach the Blogging Tree without passing this road. Now, Vivian, where's the picture of this Mario that Grodus gave us?
Vivian: You didn't give me a picture.
Beldam: Silence your excuses, Vivian! I know I gave it to you!
Vivian: No, you didn't. You said it was too important to give me, so you gave it to Marilyn.
Marilyn: Guh huh!
Marilyn reaches into her hat and pulls out the picture.
Beldam: Silence, brat! I know what I did and didn't do, and I didn't give it to Marilyn!
Vivian: But, Marilyn is holding it right now!
Beldam: Shut up!
A group of people walk by. One of them accidentally bumps into Beldam.
Goombella: Oops, excuse me!
Beldam: Watch where you're going.
Goombella hurries on to catch up with Mario and Punio.
Marilyn: Guh uh uh!
She points frantically after Mario and Company.
Beldam: Oh, what is it, Marilyn?!
She notices Marilyn holding the picture.
Beldam: Ah, there it is!
She grabs the picture and looks it over.
Beldam: Wait... Didn't that guy just walk past us?
Marilyn and Vivian glance at each other, then take off running.
Beldam: I'll punish you to kingdom come! Come back here!
The Great Blogging Tree
Punio: Well, this wasn't here before.
They find the entrance blocked by a large pink door.
Goombella: The question is, who put it here?
Mario: And why is it pink?
Punio and Goombella look at him.
Mario: Well, I'm curious.
Punio: The Puni Elder once said there was a secret entrance around here, but you needed the power of the wind to find it... I know! We'll ask Flurrie!
Punio: Flurrie is a wind spirit who lives in these woods! Come on!
And so, they set off and find themselves an uneventful period of time later in her house.
Punio: Flurrie! Flurrie! Are you home?
The door to her room opens, and out steps the little man in a bowler hat.
Mario: You again?
Man: Hello again. Ahem. My name is Percival Miles, and I am not only the extra in this story, but I am also a representative of the Electronic Systems Rating Board (ESRB).
Goombella: What's the ESRB?
Percival: If you'll come this way, everything will become clear.
They enter Flurrie's room, and find a projector set up. They sit down to watch as Percival turns it on.
The ESRB and You
An Apple Industries Production
Narrator: Why hello, Billy!
Billy waves hello.
Narrator: Why Billy, what do you have there? A new video game, huh?
Narrator: But what's this?! This game is rated M!
Billy looks shocked.
Narrator: It's illegal for you to buy that game!
A SWAT team bursts in and arrests Billy.
Narrator: The ESRB, or the Electronic Systems Rating Board, is an organization run by technophobic fathers and soccer moms, designed to keep the children of the world safe from the evils of video games! They do this by rating games! I'll explain how the rating system works:
1. A game company sends in a copy of their game to the ESRB before it's released to the public.
2. Our associates then look at the pictures on the box to see what sort of game it is.
3. If it catches our interest, we might even play for five minutes!
4. After we rate the game, we send it back to the company, and the government gives us a big pile of money!
This system has been foolproof thus far! Here's a few examples:
Halo 2 was given an M rating, because it has a man shooting aliens who produce very little blood.
Alien Hominid was given a T rating, because it features an alien biting the heads off of FBI agents in explosions of gore!
Flurrie was removed from this story, because of her inappropriate character model!
Percival turns the projector off.
Percival: I think you get the idea.
Punio: But, how are we supposed to get inside the Great Blogging Tree without her?
Percival: I'm sure you'll think of something.
Percival grabs his projector and leaves.
Goombella: What are we going to do now?
Mario: I have an idea...
A short while later, back at the Great Blogging Tree...
Punio: So, what's this plan?
Suddenly, the ground begins to shake violently, and a giant machine rolls up, with the words 'Big Ball Wrecking Co." printed on the sides. Mario points at the tree.
Punio: WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE- OH MY GOD!
A hatch in the machine opens up, and lobs a missile at the tree, causing it to explode in an impressive display of pyrotechnics.
Mario: Thanks, Spike!
Spike: Don't mention it.
The wrecking machine turns and leaves.
Punio: My family, gone... My sister, gone... OH MY GOD, MY COMPUTER!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Punio dives into the fiery wreckage.
He shifts a bit of debris from his back and stands up.
Crump: I feel like I was hit with a missile or something.
He reaches back into the wreckage and picks up a stone.
Crump: At least I found this bad boy! Buh huh huh!
Goombella: That's the Crystal Star!
Mario: In the name of all that is Regis, I command you to hand the Star over!
Crump: Buh huh huh huh huh! Look who's here! That chump Grodus has been trying to get rid of!
Mario: Who you calling a chump?!
Crump: You, chump! Chump chump chump chump chump!
Mario: I dare you to say that to my face!
Crump pulls a remote out of his pocket and hits a button. A small orb descends from the sky, which he climbs into. A spiffy transformation sequence later, and Mario and Goombella are standing before a giant robot.
Mario: Wow. Just... wow.
Crump: Now, face the might of Magnus Von Grapple!
Mario: Any ideas, Goombella?
Goombella: Just one.
Mario: And what's that?
Goombella: RUN AWAY!
They take off running, with Magnus Von Grapple close behind.
Beldam: Here's the new plan. Marilyn, you hide in the bushes up ahead. When I give the signal, take this Superbomb and throw it into the road. It'll blow up, kill Mario, and we'll be able to take the Crystal Star and Magical Map back to Grodus.
Marilyn: Guh huh!
She takes the Superbomb and hides in the bush.
Marilyn: Vivian, you go on ahead and radio in when you see Mario.
Vivian: 10-4, Beldam!
Vivian runs on ahead. A very, very short while later...
Vivian: IT'S MARIO COMING UP FAST!
Beldam: NOW, MARILYN!
Marilyn tosses the bomb into the road and dives behind a tree.
Goombella: Look out!
Mario and Goombella make a hard turn left. Magnus Von Grapple runs right past them.
Crump: This can't be good.
The bomb explodes, sending Crump and the ruins of Magnus Von Grapple soaring.
Crump: I'll get you for this!
The Crystal Star lands with a thud in front of Mario and Goombella.
Mario: Well, that was fun.
Goombella: Come on, let's go back to the Thousand-Year Door.
They grab the Crystal Star and head back to Rogueport.
Hooktail's body lies still. Suddenly, it has a convulsion, and a Koopa shell is launched from its mouth.
Koops: Hey guys, I'm alive!
He looks around to find the chamber deserted.
Koops: ... Guys?
The Mario Bros. House
Luigi: Do de do! Making some delicious brownies!
There's a knock on the door.
Luigi: Come in! I'm in the kitchen! Do de do...
He turns around to find two X-Nauts and an Elite X-Naut standing in his kitchen.
Luigi: You guys wouldn't be friends of my brother, would you?
Elite X-Naut: In the name of Lord Grodus and the X-Naut Empire, you are under arrest for inadvertently being involved in a lie said by a prisoner.
The two X-Nauts grab Luigi by the arms and drag him out of the house. The lite turns to follow them, stops, grabs the tray of brownies, then heads out.