Chapter 4: Retracing One's Footsteps. Repeatedly.
Grodus: Oh, yes. YES! YES!!!
Beldam: Uh, sir?
Grodus: Oh, sorry, Beldam. These cookies are just SO delicious!
Grodus grabs another cookie off a nearby tray and eats it.
Grodus: So, you were saying?
Beldam: Yes, well, I've come up with a brilliant plan that is sure to put Mario out of his misery for good.
Grodus: Excellent. I'd love to hear it.
Beldam: Of course. You see, we'll wait for Mario to show up. Then, we'll take this superbomb, and when he least expects it, we'll-
She stops, as Grodus is too enraptured in eating another tray of brownies to pay attention.
Beldam: ... Maybe you'd like to be left alone.
Grodus nods and shoves yet another brownie into his mouth.
Beldam: *sigh* I've got to find a better job.
Computer Room, X-Naut Fortress
Peach: Did Toadsworth get my Email?
Tec: Affirmative. The message was received. Now, I'm sure you're curious as to why I've summoned you again.
Peach: The thought HAD crossed my mind.
Tec: I have been browsing the Internet, and have found some websites about love. In particular, about what to say to make someone else interested in loving you in return. I would like you to listen and give me feedback.
Peach: *sigh* Fine.
Tec: Thank you. Ahem. *switches to a Texan voice filter* Hey baby. Care to defragment my hard drive?
Peach: Uh, no.
Tec: Wanna boot up with me?
Tec: Go ahead, I'm more than USB compatible.
Peach: This is just sad.
Tec: You overclock my processor, baby.
Peach: Okay, that's it! I can't take it anymore!
Tec: *reverts to normal voice filter* Is there something wrong?
Peach: Of course there is! These are pathetic! You can't get someone to love you with cheesy pickup lines like that! You need romance! Candlelit dinners, long walks in the park, that sort of thing!
Tec: ... Romance? I must research this further. Feel free to use my communicator.
Peach types another letter to Toadsworth, then leaves without another word.
Tec: Good night, Princess Peach.
Kammy: Are you sure he'll be okay? Shouldn't we get him to a hospital?
Bowser: Bah. He'll be fine. It's only a bullet wound.
They both glance down at Koops's inert body.
Bowser: Besides, it's not like he's on payroll or anything.
Kammy: So, why are we just hovering over Rogueport? Shouldn't we be looking for those Crystal Stars?
Bowser: We ARE looking for those Crystal Stars. We're going to watch for Mario from here, see who he talks to, then interrogate them as to the locations of the remaining Crystals.
Kammy: Wow. That's a good plan.
Bowser: Of course it's a good plan. I didn't get to be the Koopa King just for my looks.
Kammy: That's apparent.
Bowser: ... You know, I'm this close to just incinerating you.
Rogueport Hospital for the Sanity Challenged
Goombella: Wow, Professor. I'm glad to see you're finally getting the help you need.
Frankly: Yeah, well, when you have a nervous breakdown in the middle of the square, you don't exactly get much of a choice in the matter.
Mario: Now, where's the next Crystal Star?
Frankly: Hmmmmmmm... Well, according to the map, it's in Creepy Steeple.
Mario: Creepy Steeple?
Frankly: It's an abandoned church in the Twilight Region, a couple miles outside of Twilight Town.
Mario: Right. Now, let me guess: the easiest way to Twilight Town is through a pipe somewhere beneath Rogueport, right?
Goombella: Thanks for your help, Professor. We'll have these Crystals back and get you out of here before you know it.
Nurse: It's time for your medication, Professor.
Frankly: Right. Well, good luck, kids.
Mario and Goombella leave, to be accosted by Toadsworth.
Toadsworth: Master Mario! I've received another Email from the princess!
Mario: Anything useful in it?
Toadsworth: ... Not really. All she said was that the quality of her rations improved recently. She said to take your time rescuing her.
Mario: Anything else?
Toadsworth: Actually, for some odd reason, all the Emails are addressed to your brother, Luigi.
Goombella: Shouldn't we be going?
Toadsworth: Oh, don't go! It's so lonely. How about you stop by the inn for a spot of tea?
Toadsworth: We could play cricket.
Mario: I don't think-
Toadsworth: Or Scrabble! It's America's Good-Time Game (tm)!
Mario and Goombella turn and run as fast as they can.
Toadsworth: Well, maybe when you get back?
A short while later, Mario and Goombella are standing in front of the pipe to Twilight Town.
Mario: And away we go!
Mario dives into the pipe, and is shot right back out moments later.
Goombella: Oh, rejected by a pipe. That has to be bad for the ego.
Mario tries again, with the same result.
Goombella: Maybe we should go talk to the professor again.
Mario: No need. I know how to handle these kinds of situations.
Mario tosses a few coins in, grabs Goombella, and goes through the pipe successfully.
Mario: There's no problem so great that you can't throw money at it and make it go away.
They emerge successfully in Twilight Town, where they find themselves surrounded by pigs.
Goombella: Wow. This place sure is a sty.
Mario: Well, there's no reason to be "porking" around here.
???: This situation is dire indeed, and mocking it does nothing to improve the situation.
The duo turn around to find a decomposing guy with part of his brain exposed.
Goombella: AAAAAAAAAAAAH! ZOMBIE!
???: Precisely. My name is Dour. I am the mayor of Twilight Town.
Mario: Wait, you're a zombie?
Mario: Than shouldn't some of those Resident Evil guys come and blow you away with shotguns and stuff?
Dour: That's why we put the special pipe in place. Anyone who would want to senselessly slay us just because we're zombies is obviously too dull-witted to figure out the puzzle of the pipe.
Back in the pipe room...
Jill Valentine: Forget this, I'm just going to find a haunted mansion or something.
Goombella: So, Mr. Dour. What's with the pigs?
Dour: Our fair town has been cursed by an evil creature living in the Creepy Steeple. Every time the bell rings, one of our fair residents is transformed... INTO A PIG! DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUN!
Mario: Did you really have to say "Dun dun dun?"
Dour: Sorry, just got caught up in the moment.
Goombella: So, how do we get to Creepy Steeple from here, anyway?
Dour: Just go east of here. There's a path through the forest that should take you right there.
Mario: Right. We'll have your little curse problem fixed in a jiff. Come, Goombella!
And so, Mario and Goombella traverse the forest and arrive at Creepy Steeple.
(For your convenience, the remainder of this chapter will keep a running tally of how many times our hero travels this road. This would be the first time, so the current total is 1.)
Mario: Wow. It's... creepy.
Goombella: Did you think of that all by yourself?
Mario: Shut up.
They enter the old church and wander about a bit. In the cellar, they stumble across an odd-looking box.
Box: Hey, Mr. Stache. Open me up.
Goombella: Did that box... just talk?
Mario: Okay, I'm weirded out.
Crump: You get used to it.
Mario: Okay... wait. What?
Crump: ... Oops.
Crump jumps out from behind a curtain and runs off.
Mario opens the box, and hundreds of Boos pour out!
Mario: Ack! Ghosts! Where's Luigi when you need him?!
The Boos surround Mario and Goombella. One of them floats forward.
Boo Spokesman: Hello, and thank you for opening that box. We have been stuck inside of it for weeks by that accursed little wretch living upstairs.
Goombella: You mean the guy living here was able to force hundreds of Boos into a box?
Boo Spokesman: Well, we weren't exactly forced...
A Duplighost is standing in front of the Boos, box in hand.
Duplighost: There's free sandwiches in this box!
Ghosts: Do they have anchovies?
Duplighost: ... Yes.
Ghosts: All right! Score!
The ghosts dive into the box, and the Duplighost closes it.
Back to the present...
Mario: Geez, you guys are dense. There's no such thing as an anchovy sandwich.
Ghost Spokesman: Grrr... You dare insult our intelligence? Guys, group up!
The ghosts all dive at their spokesman, forming one giant Boo.
Atomic Boo: You'll regret that, you ignorant fool.
Suddenly, a door opens behind Mario, and a Duplighost wearing a party hat walks in.
Duplighost: Hey, looks like you guys got out of the box! Eat the sandwiches yet?
Atomic Boo: Curse you, you little urchin! You tricked us! There were no sandwiches!
Duplighost: Sure there were. You didn't look hard enough. Did you check the corners?
Atomic Boo: ... No...
Duplighost: Well, there you go. I went through all the trouble of making hundreds of anchovy sandwiches for you, and you can't even find them. I mean, I'm just trying to be neighborly.
Atomic Boo: Well, maybe we'll look again.
Atomic Boo splits back up into its original group of Boos, which dive back into the box. The Duplighost leaps forward and closes the lid.
Duplighost: Suckers. So, you two want to come up to my pad?
A short while later, they're sitting in the bell tower of Creepy Steeple.
Goombella: So, you're the one who's turning the Twilighters into pigs, right?
Duplighost: Sure am, Slick. Is it great or what?
Goombella: Um... why?
Duplighost: Because I can! You see, normally, we Duplighosts can only change our own shape. But, since I found this awesome little Star-shaped rock, I've been able to channel my magic outward!
Mario: Ah ha! You have the Crystal Star!
Duplighost: Is that what you call this thing?
He produces the Crystal Star from under his cloak.
Mario: We'll be needing that, thank you very much.
Duplighost: Over my dead body!
Mario: That can be arranged.
Mario dives at the Duplighost and swings his hammer. His adversary dives out of the way.
Duplighost: Nice move, Slick. Let's see how well you do against yourself!
There's a bright flash, and the Duplighost is replaced by a shadowy version of Mario.
_____: Wait, what the-
Goombella dives from on top of a bookcase, hitting the shadowy figure on the head. He's knocked out cold.
Mario: Good shot, Goombella! Now, let's take this Crystal Star off 'im and get going.
Mario grabs the Crystal Star and turns to leave. He stops at the top of the steps and turns back to his unconscious foe.
Mario: So long, Slick! Mwahahahahahaha!
Goombella: I've never heard you laugh like that, Mario. Something wrong?
Mario: Huh? Oh, I think I've got something stuck in my throat, that's all. Let's go?
Mario and Goombella leave. Fifteen minutes pass, and the shadowy figure regains consciousness.
_____: Uh, my head. Hey, Goombella, nice shot, HITTING ME IN THE HEAD! ... Goombella?
He looks around to find himself alone in the Steeple.
_____: Why that little punk! She went back to town without me!
He gets up and heads back down the path to Twilight Town. (2) Once there, he enters the mayor's house, only to find Mario there.
_____: What the?! I'm already here!
Dour: Hm? Oh, a... shadow... Well, normally I'd appreciate such an interesting visitor, but I'm busy entertaining Mario, who has recently saved our town from certain humiliation. If you wouldn't mind coming back later-
_____: Hold up, buddy. I'M _____.
Dour: What was that? I couldn't hear the name.
_____: I said I'm _____.
Dour: Are you playing with me?
_____: Seriously. That guy? He's not Mario, he's an imposter.
Dour: And you would know this how?
_____: Because I'M _____! ME!
Dour: Look, it's been fun, but get out before I'm forced to bite off one of your limbs or something.
Our nameless hero leaves, then spies a familiar figure rooting around in the bushes.
Vivian: Oh, Beldam is SO going to kill me for losing the superbomb.
_____ walks up behind her and picks up the superbomb.
_____: You mean this?
Vivian: Oh. My. God. You found it!
Vivian takes the bomb from _____, but a piece falls off of it.
Vivian: ... I'm so dead.
She tosses the broken bomb over her shoulder, inadvertently blowing up someone's house.
_____: Hah. You think you have it bad? Some random loser just stole my identity, and I don't mean they have my credit card number.
Vivian: Seriously? That must stink.
_____: Tell me about it.
Mario: Well well well. It looks like Mr. Noname's got himself a new girlfriend.
_____: ... How did you get here without being noticed?
Mario: Does it matter?
Vivian: Wait, this is the guy who stole your identity? And if he's Mario, then... You're really Mario?
_____: Well, apparently not at the moment.
Mario: This is so sweet. I mean, you're famous, everybody loves you, you're super-strong, and now it's all mine!
Vivian: You creep! Give him back his name and body!
Mario: Oh, not likely. This is too fun. Of course, as long as this nobody is running around, there's always the risk he could discover my true identity and ruin everything, so he's got to go.
_____: ... Wait. Did you just inadvertently tell me how to defeat you?
Mario: Uh, no. And don't go searching Creepy Steeple for clues, either. I'm serious. It's not a good idea. Honest.
Vivian and _____ look at each other, then dash back down the path to Creepy Steeple. (3)
Mario: For some reason, I think I may have said too much.
_____: Now, if I were a demented psychopath body snatcher, where would I hide my one weakness?
Vivian: In the empty well with a ladder in it, along with a sign that says "No weaknesses down here, go away." ?
_____: You may be on to something...
They climb down the ladder and follow a secret passage into the church. They end up in a room with nothing but a parrot.
Vivian: He's allergic to birds?
_____: Naw, the bird probably knows something. Something he won't tell willingly...
Parrot: Actually, if you ask nicely, I'll tell you.
_____ grabs the parrot by the neck and holds him in the air.
_____: TELL ME, OR I'LL BREAK YOU LITTLE NECK!
Parrot: ACK! JUST TELL HIM HIS REAL NAME!
Mario releases the bird.
_____: And his name is?
A short while later, back in Twilight Town, after a walk through the woods... (4)
Mario: So, Slick, found out my weakness?
_____: Sure did... RONALD REAGAN!
Mario: ... What?
_____: I'll be right back.
Back at the secret room... (5)
_____: Why you no-good, dirty rotten-
Parrot: NO! GET AWAY FROM ME WITH THAT KNIFE! AAAAAAUUUGH!
Vivian: You know, you just killed the only thing we had to find out that jerk's name.
_____: Maybe not.
In a different part of Creepy Steeple...
Atomic Boo: Thanks for letting us out.
_____: No problem. Say, do you happen to know the name of that Duplighost who lives here?
Atomic Boo: Yeah, his name's Doopliss. Why do you ask?
_____: Oh, no reason.
Atomic Boo: You know, you look real familiar. Have you opened this box before?
Yet another swift trek through the woods back to Twilight Town... (6?!)
Mario: What do you want now? You're a busy guy, you know.
_____: Okay, the jig is up... DOOPLISS!
Mario: ... Uh oh.
The imposter takes of running, back toward... Creepy Steeple.
_____: This is SO getting old.
_____ and Vivian go back along the same trail back to Creepy Steeple and head for Doopliss' room. (7. Yes, seven.)
Mario: Look, can't you be reasonable? Perhaps we could share or something.
_____: Not likely, Doopliss.
Mario: AUGH! Stop saying the word!
_____: Doopliss Doopliss Doopliss.
Mario: Oh, the agony! The agony!
With an anticlimactic popping sound, Doopliss returns to his normal form, and Mario is restored.
Mario: Finally. Now, hand over the Crystal Star.
Doopliss: Ha! Not likely. How about if I just turn YOU into a pig?!
Goombella leaps from the top of the bookshelf onto Doopliss, knocking him out cold.
Mario: Oh, sure. THIS time you do it right.
Goombella: Oh, I make one mistake, and it haunts me for the rest of my life, right?
Vivian: Oh well. All's well that ends well.
Vivian takes the Crystal Star and hands it to Mario.
Vivian: Shall we be going?
Goombella: Wait. Aren't you supposed to be evil?
Vivian: ... Naw. I think I'll hang with you guys for a while.
Mario: All right. Let's go.
Mario and Goombella leave. Once they're gone, Vivian reaches into her hat and pulls out a radio.
Vivian: Siren Black, this is Siren Red. I repeat, this is Siren Red. Over.
Beldam's voice comes crackling back through the radio.
Beldam: For the last time, Vivian, this is a SECURE CHANNEL. We don't need the code names.
Vivian: Siren Black, I have successfully infiltrated Mario's party, and am in the perfect position to betray them at the opportune moment. Over.
Beldam: STOP WITH THE CODE NAMES!
Vivian: To remain inconspicuous, I can't be alone too long. Maintain radio silence. This is Siren Red, over and out.
Don Pianta's office
Don Pianta: Now, you're sure the source wasn't wrong?
Pianta: We're sure, Boss. He says he saw Frankie and Francesca at Toad Town Harbor, buying a ticket for da honeymoon cruise to Keelhaul Key.
Don Pianta: Okay, here's what I want: have our associate sabotage da boat. Make sure dey STAY on Keelhaul Key. Understood?
Pianta: Sure thing, Boss.
Don Pianta: Oh, and find dat Mario guy. I'd like to have a little talk wid him about double-crossing me.
End of Chapter