A broken and bruised steel claw slid smoothly out of the rubble and latched onto the ground.
Heh… heh heheheh…
Two more claws followed it. A thin, scaled shoulder wrenched itself free of the collapsed rock, followed by a thin, draconic head, topped with small horns and a mane of red hair that was matted with dirt.
Tried to bury me alive, eh, dear brother?
The sunken form slowly rose out of the ground, with waterfalls of earth falling out of every crevice on the shrunken body and large, spiny shell. Its head rose, revealing a pair of burning red eyes.
I suppose I’ll have to… return the favor…
The figure laughed, spewing a stream of radiant green fire into the innocent blue sky.
Boing! Boing! Boing! Luigi sighed. “Mario, could you please stop? You’ve been at that for an hour so far. Some of us actually need to rest.”
Mario stopped his repetitive jumping for a moment so he could turn and stare at Luigi. “I need-a to practice my jumping!” he said insistently. “If the princess gets kidnapped, then the higher I can jump the better!”
Luigi groaned. “Mario, you saved the princess from Bowser just last fall. She isn’t going to get kidnapped again so soon. Besides, don’t you think you need a break?” he said.
Mario groaned. “Mamamia… Remember what happened the last time we decided I needed a break? Specifically-a, that business at Isle Delfino?”
Luigi nodded at the recollection. “Still, can you at least do that outside?” Complacently, Mario ran outside and started on a series of high jumps, spin jumps, wall jumps, and belly slides… again. Suddenly, he misjudged his aim in the middle of a jump, and landed in a bush!
“OUCH! Meork! Fall on somebody who can take your weight, fatso!” Startled, Mario backed away from the shrubbery. A small pink Fuzzy with radiant green eyes pulled itself out of the scrub after him.
“I’m-a sorry,” Mario apologized. “It’s-a just that… um… generally people don’t sit behind bushes. What were you doing there, anyway?” he said suspiciously.
The Fuzzy drew itself up imperiously. “I’m on a quest to discover the legendary artifacts created by my family in Fuzzy Village!”
Mario managed to stop himself from laughing at the exaggerated expression on the Fuzzy’s face. “Really-a? What are they?”
The Fuzzy puffed itself up a bit more (if that was possible). “They’re called the Power Stars. My name’s AbyssNess. I was visiting your house to see if you could give me any information about them- after all, you were the one who collected them a few years ago.”
Mario shook his head. “Sorry-a. You’ll have to ask Luigi, who’s inside the house. I don’t really know what happened to the Power Stars after I saved the princess.”
The Fuzzy nodded, if that’s even possible for something that’s entire body consisted of a face. “Okay, I guess I will,” it muttered.
The pink puffball cheerfully bounced into the house. A few moments later, Mario heard a scream of terror. “MAMAMIA! DON’T EAT MY BRAINS!” He ran into the house to discover the pink Fuzzy staring at Luigi in consternation. Luigi was in hysterics and was hiding behind the couch. This is going to take some explaining, Mario thought…
The sky of the arctic Fahr Fahr Outpost was usually dotted with flakes of snow, and snow only. But today was different. Today, the sky was lit with fire and streaked with noxious black clouds. Today, the sky was filled with the raging sounds of vast explosions and screams of pain and horror. Today, the sky smelled of blood, smoke, and fear… in short, the smell of war.
Bowser, the malevolent King of Koopas, was seated on a makeshift black throne in the center of a gray steel Klown Kopter, equipped on all sides with Bombshell Bill Launchers and Bob-omb droppers. Attached to each end was a small platform bearing an enormous turret, manned by a pair of enthusiastic orange Magikoopas. This machine, dubbed the Crown Copter, was to be Bowser’s new vehicle—his tool in a war against the Bob-ombs of Fahr Fahr Outpost. Bowser laughed maniacally. “Gwa ha ha! Once we conquer these gullible Bob-omb townspeople, we’ll be able to use their enormous cannon to rule the world!”
Kammy Koopa, his advisor and constant companion, nodded behind him. “Indeed, Lord Bowser. May I advise that you watch your back?”
Bowser rounded on her. “What do you mean, you idiotic old- oh, GREAT.” Bowser had one moment to let his jaw sag downward in disbelief before a flying Bob-omb hit the Crown Copter, engulfing him in a cloud of flame and smoke.
Kammy jerked backwards. “Lord Bowser! Lord Bowser! Are you all right?! More importantly, is your machine all right?”
A claw swung out of the smoke and bopped the old Magikoopa on the nose. “Yes, I AM all right, thank you for asking! So is the Crown Copter, and so are those two florescent orange Magikoopas you hired to man my turrets! Geez, get your priorities straight, you old hag…”
As the smoke cleared, Kammy cackled. “Eldel! Junel! He doubts you! Show him your power!”
The two Magikoopas bowed and spoke simultaneously. “Yes, milady. It shall be done.”
The brightly colored pair floated into the air and held up their wands. They began to whirl in place; spinning faster and faster, until they were merely a blur. Bowser crossed his arms. “How long is this going to take?” he groaned, and started dropping Bob-ombs to see if he could ignite a chain reaction among the villagers below.
Suddenly, the ginger-robed duo froze in place. They lifted their hands and roared out words in a mysterious, harsh language. A stream of flames leaped from their hands, bounced off a Bob-omb’s shiny head, and devestated a fir tree sapling before dissipating in a flash of light.
Bowser began to laugh uncontrollably and started pounding the control panel, which resulted in a continuous stream of Mechakoopas, metal balls, Bob-ombs, and Bombshell Bills raining down on the unsuspecting populace below. “That’s all they do?! It takes them that long just to make one lousy stream of fire?! It wasn’t even hot enough to ignite that Bob-omb’s fuse as it passed!”
Kammy sighed in exasperation. “Eldel and Junel commune with ancient demons to call up their attacks. Despite all appearances, their powers are varied and extremely deadly. Oh, and Lord Bowser, if you could release such a devestating series of attacks just by pounding the control pad, why didn’t you do it in when you fought Mario in Dinosaur Land?”
Bowser examined his hands, which had been knocking on the control panel all the time they’d been talking. “Um, I think it was because at the time I fought him, the Klown Kopter was constructed mainly of spit and prayers.”
Kammy nodded knowingly. “By the way, Lord Bowser, you might want to watch your back,” she added.
“Oh, not AGAI-”
AbyssNess blinked (something pretty impressive on an object whose eyes take up half its body.) “So you mean you don’t know where the Power Stars are?”
Luigi nodded. “After Mario collected all 120 of them, the princess had the magical portraits that contained them removed from the castle and given to various guardians. In fact…” The green-suited plumber withdrew a small, gilded portrait of a sunken ship from his pocket and smiled proudly. “One of those guardians was me. I’m surprised the princess didn’t give you anything, Mario.”
Mario looked somewhat panic-stricken. “Well, actually-”
The Fuzzy cut him off abruptly. “You have one too, don’t you? C’mon, show it to us! Don’t be shy! Try not to be bashful! Avoid being introverted! It’s bad to be withdrawn!”
Mario sighed. “As I was going to say, I don’t think it would be a great idea to let this Fuzzy know where the Power Stars are.”
Luigi shook his head. “You were the one who brought him in the first place, weren’t you?”
“Yes, but I’m not the one who showed him one-a of the places the Power Stars were hidden!”
“I wouldn’t have done that if you hadn’t told me that he was safe! Anyway, it probably was okay to show it to him. Right, AbyssNess? AbyssNess?”
Both the portrait and the Flower Fuzzy were gone. The two plumbers slowly turned towards each other. “It’s your fault,” they said simultaneously, and rushed towards the door.
AbyssNess chuckled as he hopped through the crowded streets of the Mushroom Kingdom. “Nyek ek ek ek! That pair of clowns will never catch up to me now! With this portrait in my grasp, I’ll be invincible! I-n-v-i-n-c-i… Wait a minute, what letter goes after the third I?”
Preoccupied with the arcane mysteries of spelling, the pilfering Fuzzy slammed into a Mushroomer, ricocheted into a window, and burst through it into a dark room. He slammed into a wall, dislodged a broom from the shelf above him, and knocked over an aquarium filled with Cheep Cheeps, which obligingly shattered, spraying the floor with water and a slew of orange fish, one of which conveniently managed to flop inside of the portrait before it suffocated. AbyssNess sighed. “Oh darn, here we go…”
The fish landed on land, but it could dimly sense that water was near. With a flip of its powerful tail, the tropical fish found itself plunged into a vast lake of wonderful, pure water. It flexed its gills for a few moments, inhaling the liquid, and began to swim. Swimming, it half-thought, was what Cheep Cheeps did best. Swimming without any thought or purpose. But this time, the Cheep Cheep did feel a thought: something vast, alien, and powerful, compelling it to swim onwards. The fish resisted for a few moments. Thoughts, it reflected, were something that it had not experienced before. Quite possibly they were yet another kind of predator, and it was swimming towards a painful death. But finally, as the pull of the thoughts became excruciatingly painful, it obeyed.
Before long, it found itself swimming alongside of an eel. The Cheep Cheep’s ordinary instincts screamed at it to pull away. But by this time, the tug of the thoughts was at its peak, and the fish was long past listening. It discovered that the eel’s tail was now directly in front of it, and with it was the source of the pull- a vast glittering object with two dark eyes. The fish lunged forwards, now beyond all reason, and seized the Star between its teeth.
A fantastic surge of energy filled the fish’s body. Suddenly, the eel seemed small and puny by comparison to it. Was this the thing that had so frightened it before? The Cheep Cheep opened its now-vast jaws, and sent them crashing down upon the limp form of the eel…
“Face it-a, Luigi, we’ve searched-a everywhere by now. If that Fuzzy hid in Toad Town like you think it did, we would have found it already, and the only places we haven’t searched yet are the restaurants, and what self-respecting villain would hide there?” Mario took in a deep breath and prepared himself for another long sentence. “After all, we don’t know if he hid in Toad Town anyway! It’s-a possible that he went back to that Fuzzy Village of his, or hid in a forest, or rode to Lavalava Isle in that whale’s mouth, like that Fuzzipede thing, or he-”
Luigi shoved a Dried Shroom into his brother’s mouth to quiet him down. “I think he went to Toad Town because it’s the closest town nearby! He’s an urban Fuzzy! I can tell somehow!” he ranted.
Mario finished the Dried Shroom and swallowed it. “You-a know, I’m really hungry. How about we go to a restaurant, and while I eat, you look for the Fuzzy?”
Luigi nodded. “It’s a deal.” The two brothers walked into the nearest restaurant.
The manager of the restaurant shook his head quickly. “I’m sorry, sir! We’ve found a suspicious criminal in our back storage room! He appeared to have a valuable portrait with him, and we’ve called the police. They should be here any minute, sir!”
Luigi suddenly jumped to attention. “A portrait? Um, could I see this criminal?” he exclaimed.
The manager shook his head again. “No, I’m sorry sir. He’s a Fuzzy, and seems to be extremely dangerous, sir! He’s already sucked the Flower Points out of one of our waiters! Two other waiters are restraining him with forks, sir!” Upon hearing the words "a Fuzzy", Luigi pushed past the manager and entered the storage room.
The scene inside was incredibly chaotic. The room was ankle-deep with water, and there were large Cheep Cheeps flopping around inside of it. The window was broken and razor-sharp shards of glass were floating around in the water. The shelf on the wall had collapsed, and the remains of an enormous broken fishtank lay in the corner. In the midst of all the insanity, a broom floated serenely.
In the middle of the room, AbyssNess, holding the portrait in his mouth, was being jabbed at by a pair of waiters with forks. Luigi strode to the center of the room. “Give me the portrait!” he demanded.
AbyssNess smirked. “You want it? One of the Cheep Cheeps got in, you know. Do you know what happens to monsters who obtain a Power Star?”
“No, and I don’t want to! Give me the portrait, or I’ll take it from you!” he repeated.
AbyssNess laughed. “Nyek ek ek ek EK ek! Is that so? Because… I have plenty left over from the waiter.” In the moment it took for Luigi to register what he had said, a bolt of lightning lanced into the room through the broken window, landing in the water and giving the Cheep Cheeps, waiters, and everyone else standing in the liquid a mild electric shock. AbyssNess grinned. “Nyek ek ek! Follow me if you dare!” The pink, demonic creature leaped into the portrait. Once the shock faded away, Luigi followed him.
In the silence that followed, the pair of slightly charred waiters blinked at each other. “You know,” one of them finally said, “I think we just saw a genuine boss battle.”
Luigi turned to grab AbyssNess, but he had already bounced out of the way and was sitting on a nearby stone pillar. The Flower Fuzzy smiled nastily. “Nyek ek ek ek! You’ll never be able to catch me- you should just give up and focus on the Cheep Cheep!”
The green-suited plumber looked confused. “What Cheep Cheep? There aren’t any Cheep Cheeps in Jolly Roger Bay.”
He was interrupted by a vast sloshing noise. Luigi swung around to face the water and was horrified to see a massive orange back, encrusted with barnacles and pondweed, rising from the water. The Flower Fuzzy chuckled from somewhere behind him. “That Cheep Cheep.”
Rising from the water was a vast, grotesque orange Cheep Cheep. Its teeth were as big as Luigi himself, and their size forced the fish’s boxy jaw permanently open. On either side of its square head were a pair of small, beady, black-tinted eyes. Its huge yellow fins were serrated and glowed with a sickly green light. Its tail was incredibly long; by peering into the water, Luigi could see it coiling downwards, its end beyond his field of vision. The entire length of its body was dotted with tiny, glittering lights.
Luigi stumbled backwards. AbyssNess’ high-pitched voice came forth again, from above him this time. “You remember what I was saying about monsters who obtain a Power Star?”
He had no time to answer, because the entire bulk of the Cheep Cheep was rushing at him with incredible speed. The plumber dived to the side, and the enormous jaws clashed shut on the spot he had been just a moment ago, biting straight through the solid rock. The fish changed direction in an instant, chewing straight through the stone path to reach him. Luigi tensed his legs and just before it was upon him, leaped into the air and watched the grotesque creature smash its way directly under him. He landed in the water and immediately began to swim for shore, knowing that in the water, the fish would catch him for sure. In the next instant, he heard a splashing behind him, and without thinking he dived downwards, letting the huge fish swim directly above him. Luigi breathed out bubbles as he sighed in relief. Suddenly, the monster’s huge tail whipped out from the depths and coiled around him. It slowly began to tighten, squeezing the life out of him. Through bleary eyes, Luigi could see the Cheep Cheep lazily swim towards him, opening its mouth to show a yellow glint within… and then a pink blur passed above him and dived past the monster, grabbing the Star as it went. Slowly, the coils around him began to loosen, and Luigi floated to the surface. He could see the Cheep Cheep shrinking as he went.
The first thing he heard as he surfaced was a hysterical laugh. “NYEK EK EK EK EK! Thank you so much, plumber, for bringing me JUST the thing I wanted! Ever since a giant creature ransacked my village, I’ve always wanted a Power Star for myself! And here one is!”
Luigi slowly loosened his stiff neck and glanced upwards to see AbyssNess, seated upon a stone pillar, holding a Power Star nearly as big as he was. Luigi groaned softly. “So… you said that your family in Fuzzy Village had made them… That was a lie?”
The devilish creature laughed again. “Nyek ek ek ek ek! You actually believed that? Of course not! If we had, then it would have been much, much easier to get my hands on one of these! You see, when somebody touches a Power Star, they slightly grow in power. If they eat a Power Star, like that Cheep Cheep you just fought, their power grows tremendously. Nyek ek ek ek! And so that is what I plan to do! Ever since a giant monster ransacked Fuzzy Village and forced all its inhabitants to live in the wild like animals, I’ve planned to obtain this! I’ll force the rest of the world to experience what we did! And I shall rule it all! NYEK EK EK EK EK!!!” All shreds of sanity had left the psychotic Fuzzy, and as Luigi protested, AbyssNess dropped the Power Star down his throat.
The changes were near-instantaneous. The Flower Fuzzy doubled in size, and his teeth grew long and sharp. His eyes narrowed and turned reddish. Vast claws sprouted on either side of his body and small, stubby horns sprouted from his scalp, giving the creature a reptilian, primordial look. Last of all, gargantuan feathery wings sprouted from his back, making great claps as they beat. The Fuzzy lifted into the air, baring his sharpened fangs, and dived towards the woozy plumber.
Luigi managed to wake himself up enough to toss a stream of emerald fireballs at the monster, and leaped onto the stone path. With hardly any effort, the Fuzzy dived beneath them, his furry stomach scraping along the water. As he neared the pathway and the fleeing Luigi, the Fuzzy turned into a curve so he was chasing him from behind, shattering stone pillars with his wings as he went.
Meanwhile, the specially adapted stomach of the Fuzzy was already digesting the Power Star, a task that for the Cheep Cheep had barely been begun. Each moment, the acidic liquid within AbyssNess’ stomach was eating away at the edges of the Star, and further changes were taking place.
Luigi could already see that the Fuzzy was gaining on him. His massive wings could move much faster than his feet, and any obstacle in AbyssNess’ way was simply reduced to rubble by his enormous, feathered limbs. Luigi could see only one way to escape- into the water. But, he realized, the Flower Fuzzy probably still had Flower Points left over from the waiter he had sucked the energy out of. If he entered the water, AbyssNess would simply electrocute him.
Luigi’s thoughts were interrupted by a roar from behind him. “I’LL KILL YOU, PLUMBER! NYEK EK EK EK!!!” A gout of flames scorched the ground next to him, and Luigi risked a peek behind him. He nearly tripped over his own feet as he saw the mutations that only a few minutes of digestion had brought forth. The Flower Fuzzy’s body was elongated into the lithe form of a dragon. His body was covered with obsidian scales, the tufts of pink fur beneath them showing along the edges. A long tail with a spiny steel orb on the end was flung out behind him. A long, forked blue tongue hung out of the side of his mouth. As Luigi was looking at the transfigured AbyssNess, another stream of fire struck the ground behind him. Finally, Luigi realized what he had to do.
“Hey!” the plumber shouted at the vast creature behind him, slowing to a halt. “I know why that monster rampaged through your village- everybody else there were lunatics like you!”
His answer was an insane shriek of rage as the creature dived towards him. “I’LL ROAST YOU SLOWLY TO MAKE YOU REMEMBER THOSE WORDS, HUMAN SWINE!”
As the stream of flames lanced towards him, Luigi pulled out a vial of Red Essence and dumped it down his throat. The flames jumped to either side of him and struck the rubble-strewn ground, and the dragon sailed upwards and prepared for another dive. “LET’S SEE YOU DEFLECT THIS, WEAKLING!”
Luigi leaped into the air and the dragon flew directly beneath him, but swooped up before it touched the ground. “NYEK EK EK EK! YOU THINK YOU CAN TRAP ME WITH THE SAME TRICK YOU USED ON THAT FISH?! I HAVE BRAINS, YOU KNOW! NYEK EK EK- URK!” (The "URK" was presumably because Luigi had just landed on the back of the dragon’s neck.)
“I’LL KILL YOU, PLUMBER!” Looking back, Luigi could see that still more changes were crawling across the body of the former Flower Fuzzy. Long fins, coated with dancing streams of light, had sprung up along his side. The stubby horns on his head had lengthened until each one was about as long as Luigi’s arm. As AbyssNess curved around and decimated a pillar with his fire, Luigi discovered that it was a shade of deep black. Realizing that at the moment, AbyssNess was distracted, Luigi used all of his strength to shove the dragon’s neck towards the water. “NYEK EK EK! THIS IS WHAT I’LL DO TO YOU, PLUMB- oh.” SPLASH!
Unagi was very, very old. He realized that as he fell towards the bottom of his subterranean lake. That fish had shook the last of the life out of him, and now he was dying. What he needed was some food. Something large and nourishing, to help invigorate him again. That was when he saw the creature- a huge creature, nearly as big as himself. Good, he thought, I should be able to overwhelm it. Unagi swam towards the creature, opened his mouth, and…
“NYEK EK EK EK! YOU THOUGHT THAT WOULD FINISH ME OFF?!”
Luigi looked up to see a vast head rising from the water, and a huge black form hurtled towards him. He ducked and let it hammer into the wall behind him, then risked a glance away from the head to see what had been tossed at him.
The black body was that of Unagi, the eel that had guarded a Power Star many years ago. Luigi turned back to the head, and gasped with astonishment. It was AbyssNess- but the Power Star had malformed him completely. Two leathery black wings that spread the length of the cave were attached to enormous red knobs on his back. His head had been twisted into a sort of cross between a piranha and a hyena, with two round red eyes, interlocking yellow teeth, and a blunt, wrinkled snout. What little that could be seen of his body was a great mass of black scales, dotted in one or two places with lumps of sodden pink fur. His hands were not connected to his body by any visible appendage; the bloated dark things, adorned with a pair of brownish pincers, floating in the air next to his head. Poking out of the water in the distance was his tail, covered with glistening spikes that oozed yellow venom.
Luigi absorbed this and then quickly leaped to the side as one of the free-floating pincers hammered into the stone wall next to him, and then grabbed the rocky floor to stop his flight as another pincer shattered the wall just ahead of him. The pincers dislodged themselves from the wall and dived at him. Without a second thought, Luigi jumped into the water to evade them.
Far beneath him, Luigi could see a pair of enormous three-toed feet and just above them a bulging, pink, furry stomach. In the center of the stomach, inside of a small cavity, was the Power Star. Luigi began to swim in that direction as fast as he could, and then winced as the two disembodied pincers plunged into the water and began to blindly search for him. Luigi realized that it was hopeless- the hands moved like torpedoes in the water, and they could swim much faster than he could. The Power Star was too far away- he knew he could not reach it in time. Finally, the pair of hands locating the plumber began to circle around him, moving at exactly the speed that he swum.
There was no noise at all when the first of the hands came for him. Luigi swam downwards swiftly, and the first hand seized the second hand, sending them both crashing onto the seafloor. Luigi had just begun to relax when one of the feet swung upwards as fast as lightning, kicking him out of the water and onto the stone pathway.
All of his energy gone, Luigi lay on the path panting. The vast, grotesque head approached him slowly, and finally it opened its cavernous mouth to speak. “YOU KNOW, EVER SINCE I SAW YOU I KNEW YOU WOULD OPPOSE ME. YOU HAVE THE LOOK OF INTELLIGENCE ABOUT YOU- INTELLIGENCE FAR MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR BROTHER’S STRENGTH. IT’S A SHAME THAT NOW I’LL HAVE TO WIPE IT ALL OUT!”
As the enormous head descended upon him, Luigi reached into his overalls with the last of his strength. Withdrawing a small brass whistle from his pocket, the intrepid plumber raised it to his mouth and blew.
The humid air around him condensed and whirled around him, forming a violent, dew-speckled whirlwind. The tornado spun Luigi into the air, broke through the top of the cavern, and carried him out of the painting, leaving the horrendous monster inside. The strain of the battle and the demolition of the pillars had had its effect on the cavern; when the tornado burst through the roof, what remained of the cavern came crashing down.
The horrendous monstrosity that had once been an innocent Flower Fuzzy howled in rage until a particularly large rock fell from the remains of the roof and landed on… well, I don’t particularly need to write anything else.
Mario was finishing off his pasta when Luigi walked out of the storage room, soaking wet, bleeding, tired, and covered in seaweed. “So, what did I miss?” he asked.