Chapter 9: The Stairs of Eternity
“How long does this go on for?” Mallow groaned.
“I told you, you didn’t have to come!” Mario said irritably.
Mallow had been complaining the entire venture down the spiral staircase. Yes, they had been wandering down for a long time and there was no end in sight, but even so his complaints weren’t helping anything.
“Why is this staircase so long? Who invented stairs anyways?” Mallow asked in a slight whine.
“Quiet!” Yoshi scolded.
“Oh fine!” Mallow complained. “But I still don’t like this…”
“No one said you were going to like the trials,” Geno stated. “They’re meant to test you, they’re not meant for a good time.”
“Hey-a, Geno?” Mario asked.
“Hmm?” Geno inquired.
“I know as a guide you can only give us limited help, but does this thing ever end?” Mario asked.
Geno looked down the staircase. “I don’t know… think of them as your first test,” Geno said with a smirk.
“Huh?” Mario asked suspiciously.
Mario knew that Geno could have meant a couple things by that. He could have simply just meant that the stairs were so long that it was like a first test getting down there, or maybe that was a clue saying that this was one of the trials. In any case Mario saw that there was still no bottom in sight.
Mario groaned. “Anyone else just wanna run down the stairs except me?”
“Sure,” both Yoshi and Mallow replied.
Then at great speed all three of them started tearing down the stairs, but to no avail. They didn’t even remotely see the bottom, just blackness. Geno eventually caught up, for he had still been walking.
“I know you know what we’re-a supposed to do,” Mario said interrogatively to Geno.
“Yes, I do know… but I’m not allowed to tell you,” Geno replied. “I can only give you vague hints.”
“Lame…” Mallow replied frowning.
“C’mon, Geno, just give us a good clue…” Mallow pleaded.
Geno got a very annoyed look on his face. “GENO BEAM!” Geno shouted fiercely.
All of the heroes flinched, but then they noticed that he'd shot the wall…
“Umm, Geno…” Mallow said. “Why did you shoot the wall?”
“I have my reasons…” Geno replied mysteriously. “Now, shall we proceed?”
“I-a guess so…” Mario responded with a lot of suspicion.
As they walked on Mario started to gather his thoughts. He knew Geno was hinting them to what this was about, but he still didn’t get the big picture. Why would he shoot the wall? What was the point? Mario now knew that this must be a trial, but what was it all about?
“I’m tired of walking,” Mallow whined.
“So what you want us to do about it?” Yoshi asked in an annoyed tone.
“Watch,” Mallow instructed. Then Mallow hopped one of the banisters and started sliding down at great speed.
“Let Yoshi try!” Yoshi said excitedly.
Then Yoshi hopped on and started sliding down.
“Well-a, here I go,” Mario spoke and then slid down.
Geno simply smirked and sat down on one of the steps. “If this doesn’t do it then I don’t know what will…”
As Mario was sliding down he looked beside him. He saw deep blackness in the center of the spiral. It looked terrifying, but hopefully Mario would be there soon enough…
“I’ll race you to the bottom!” Mallow called to Mario and Yoshi.
“Okay, you on!” Yoshi replied enthusiastically.
It may sound funny but if you were bored and were sliding down a banister to get to a seemingly bottomless floor then you would probably do it too…
The three of them were enjoying themselves when Mario stopped laughing and noticed something extremely strange go by.
“Huh?” Mario asked in great surprise.
“What?” Mallow asked curiously.
“Heh… I just thought I saw Geno, probably just my-” Mario was about to complete his sentence when he knew he'd definitely seen Geno. “Wait… wasn’t Geno sitting on the steps?”
The third time Mario saw Geno sitting down he knew he had to get to the bottom of this and then he hopped off. The other two followed suit as they walked up to Geno.
“Y-you were w-way behind, though…” Mallow stuttered.
Then Mario looked up at the wall and saw the hole. Then he finally knew what Geno was trying to tell them.
“We’ve been sliding down the same stairway the entire time, haven’t we?” Mario asked.
“It took a while, but you’ve finally figured it out,” Geno said with a smile. “And I thought Twink was thick...”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Mallow asked with a raise in his voice.
“My point exactly,” Geno replied with a slight chuckle.
“I am not amused…” Mallow grumbled.
“So if this staircase is never ending, then how do we move on to the next challenge?” Mario asked curiously.
“Where’s the only place that you haven’t seen in this room yet?” Geno inquired.
Mario looked down into the blackness. “You mean…”
Geno nodded slowly.
“So how do we get down there?” Mario asked, starting to get the creeps.
“I think you already know how,” Geno responded. “If the stairs don’t go down there then what’s the only way to get to the bottom?”
Mario’s mouth started to go slightly dry. “You mean...?”
“C’mon, Mario,” Geno said with an amused sort of look. “You are legendary for it.”
Mario looked down into the blackness and then he dove in…
The others could only gasp as he disappeared.
“He is right, you know…” Geno stated.
“I know…” Mallow responded. “It’s just that jumping in such pure darkness seems a little distur-” Mallow was cut off when Geno pushed him down.
Mallow was still screaming when he hit the bottom. Surprisingly it was extremely bouncy.
Then Yoshi crashed down next to them, followed by Geno, who had a slightly more graceful landing.
“So the abyss really isn’t an abyss…” Mallow spoke.
“What is this?” Yoshi asked.
“You know we’re on a giant trampoline, don’t you?” Geno asked, laying back.
Mallow gasped and looked down. It seemed to be true; there were many threads like a trampoline.
Then they heard a voice come form above as the form of Clevar appeared.
“Congratulations,” Clevar congratulated. “You have passed the first test, but you still have six to go…”
All of the heroes groaned.
“Once you recuperat,e tell me when you’re ready to move on.”
“I think we’re okay now,” Mario replied.
“You sure?” Clevar asked.
“Yeah, why do you ask?” Mario asked curiously.
“Because it’s not like every day you get blasted through the roof with the force of a giant trampoline,” Clevar responded.
The entire party’s eyes turned big in surprise and Mario was about to protest, but it was too late, they were flung at breakneck speeds into the roof, which they burst through and then landed in a room that had mysterious music being played by an even more mysterious hooded figure who was playing an even more mysterious organ. What trial could this possibly be?
Everyone stood up from the shock of being sent through the roof.
“So… now-a what, Geno?” Mario asked curiously.
“Trust me; it will become pretty self
Chapter 10: Susan’s Problem
Meanwhile in Kastle Koopa, Bowser and the Koopalings were getting ready to depart from Morton Sr’s secret study with evil ideas in mind. Every single one of them was shocked to discover their grandpa’s (and dad’s in Bowser’s case) secret past and his lust for power. Bowser himself was surprised to know that the fabled weapon he'd heard tales of was real, and was now more determined than ever to find it for his dad’s sake and his own.
The Koopa’s began heading back upstairs, not one spoke a word until Bowser finally spoke. “Once we get upstairs, I’m going to get Kamek and Kammy and tell them what we all just heard. Then we can go to that warp and get that DAD forsaken weapon!”
“Yes King Dad,” all of the Koopalings responded understandingly.
After about ten minutes they finally walked out of the dungeon and were on their way to the main floor of the castle. When they reached their destination they looked around. Things were quiet, a little too quiet… it was very eerie indeed. It was as quiet as a graveyard around midnight, as quiet as death…
“What happened here?” Bowser asked in a horrific shock.
The castle itself looked like a tornado had hit it. The carpet was scrunched up, all of the furniture had been forcefully knocked down to the side (some of them broken), the windows were smashed, the TV was destroyed, there was dirt and mud tracked all over the place, rubble and debris covered the floor, paintings and tapestries were torn, and there were burn marks all over the walls.
The Koopalings looked all over the room in horror while Bowser roared in absolute rage and blew fire in every direction. Bowser was just in the midst of discovering something magnificent and now the feeling was ruined by this catastrophe.
“GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” Bowser bellowed in fury. “Go find Kamek and Kammy!” Bowser said, gritting his teeth at his offspring. “I’ll find the dead man who’s responsible for this!”
All of the Koopalings knew very well not to upset their father for there could be dire consequences… or at least most of them did.
“How do you know the man’s dead, deceased, done for, doomed? And how do you know it’s a man, male, non-female?” Morton asked rambling.
Morton got his questions answered…
“You got that right!” Bowser growled.
All of the Koopalings looked down at their unconscious brother and knew very well not to push Bowser’s anger further.
“Now,” Bowser said in a gruff voice. “Look for those two good for nothing Magikoopas.” Then Bowser stormed off to find the culprit.
“W-what if Kamek and Kammy are, well… you know…” Wendy spoke concernedly.
“I’m sure they are fine,” Ludwig said comfortingly. “They are highly trained Magikoopas.”
Wendy sighed. “I guess you’re right…”
The other Koopalings heard Larry gasp and they turned around to see a limping Koopatrol approaching them.
“B-beware…” the Koopatrol spoke. “H-he’s mad…”
“W-who’s mad?” Ludwig asked with urgency in his voice.
“He raved about something called D-D-Deathbringer…” the Koopatrol uttered and collapsed.
The Koopalings gasped when they saw how wounded he was. It was apparent that he had passed out from a lack of blood.
“Hurry, apply pressure to the wound!” Ludwig ordered. “I’ll get something to wrap around it.”
Ludwig looked around, but in the heat of the emergency the best thing he could find was a piece of some of the tapestry.
“This vill have to do,” Ludwig spoke, hastily wrapping the tapestry band around the wounded leg of the Koopatrol.
“I hope Dad will be all right…” Iggy said in worry.
“Knowing Dad, I think he can manage…” Ludwig replied. “Hey Roy!” Ludwig called. “Help me rest this guy on the couch.”
Roy walked over and picked up the legs of the soldier while Ludwig got the arms. They walked over to the couch when Ludwig reminded Roy that they couldn’t rest someone on a turned over couch, so Roy flipped it back up.
“I hope this vill do for now,” Ludwig said.
“Hey guys…” Lemmy spoke.
“What?” Wendy asked.
“Look, there’s something under the chair…”
The Koopalings all looked over and sure enough, there was a shadow shaking under the chair. The Koopalings approached the chair cautiously and got ready to fight it off if it was dangerous.
“Okay… NOW!” Iggy shouted as they all flipped the chair over.
“W-what… S-Susan?!” Larry asked choking.
All of the other Koopalings were equally surprised to see their cousin Susan B. Koopa revealed in the light.
Susan on the other hand had just suppressed a scream from escaping her mouth when she noticed it was just her cousins.
“Oh, hi guys!” Susan greeted.
“Susan?” Ludwig asked curiously. “What are you doing here?”
“Well…” Susan began to say.
“You came here for Mrs. Snackums, didn’t you?” Roy asked accusingly.
“What ARE you talking about?” Susan asked, cocking an eyebrow.
“Oh… you know… I know you know!” Roy responded, slightly drooling.
“Okay, he’s starting to creep me out…” Susan said to her other cousins.
“He creeps everyone out,” Iggy said with a grin.
“If you don’t shut it I’ll give you something real to be creeped out by!” Roy said, brandishing his fist.
“Guys!” Susan said, breaking up the slight dispute. “This is really no time to be fooling around…” Susan said, starting to tremble.
“Wait, what’s wrong?” Wendy asked.
“It’s my dad…” Susan replied, shivering. “He’s been really scary lately and he’s always locked up in his room rambling on and on about something called Deathbringer… it’s really freaky…”
“Wait…” Wendy thought to herself. “Isn’t the weapon we’re looking for called Deathbringer?”
“But that’s not the worst of it…” Susan said with tears forming in her eyes. “He said he would come here and kill you guys in order to obtain it… I don’t know what got into him… It’s like he’s possessed or something. I came up here to warn you and then he started demolishing your castle and beating down all the guards and he almost did the same to me…” Susan said and then Susan completely lost it and began crying.
“It’s okay, Susan…” Larry said compassionately.
Susan looked up at Larry and gave him a hug. Larry blushed slightly but still didn’t want to see his cousin so worried so he just allowed her to continue.
“Now I’m worried what he’ll do to Uncle Bowser!” Susan said in despair.
“I say we go find King Dad,” Lemmy said.
“Yeah,” Ludwig concurred. “Let’s go!”
“I won’t let my daddy hurt any more people!” Susan said with a determined air.
“Do you think it’s safe outside yet?” the blue-robed Kamek asked.
“I’ll check,” Kammy responded. Kammy then turned the doorknob and began to look around the halls. “I think the carnage has ceased,” Kammy said, signaling Kamek to come out.
“Good, my back's killing me…” Kamek complained. “Being shoved into a wizard’s potion cupboard isn’t what you call comfortable.”
“At least one of the potion’s fumes cured your asthma…” Kammy replied.
“Yeah… but for some reason I have a gigantic craving for egg rolls,” Kamek responded, licking his lips.
“Right…” Kammy replied, cocking her eyebrow.
“I wonder where Lord Bowser and the children were during all of that carnage,” Kamek said.
“Well if Master Wart’s stopped his attack then we must search for them!” Kammy said strongly.
“We must be careful… he could still be in the castle…” Kamek said warily.
It was getting late and the Koopalings were getting ready to find their father (or in Susan’s case, uncle). The Koopalings were about to take leave when a voice stopped them.
“Wait!” a weak voice called.
All of the Koopa Kids looked over and saw the Koopatrol. He had apparently regained consciousness and was determined to move along again although he still had a limp.
“Master Wart has seemed to obtain uncanny powers. It’s not a good idea to look for him, g-get out while you still can…” the Koopatrol spoke faintly.
“I’m not going to allow Daddy to do anything to Uncle Bowser!” Susan said stubbornly.
“Lord Bowser has returned?!” the Koopatrol asked.
“Yeah… We just came back from… places…” Wendy affirmed.
“So I see…” the Koopatrol replied. “Last time I saw him… Master Wart was going... toward the northern tower…”
The Koopatrol tried to walk over to the Koopalings, but instead stumbled over. “I just can’t walk in my condition…” the Koopatrol said sorrily.
“Don’t vorry, ve vill handle this,” Ludwig said, taking out his wand.
“Good idea!” Iggy said and took out his own wand.
“Hey, I’m awake!” Morton cheered, but then a large flower pot fell from a tipped shelf and broke on Morton’s head, and he passed out again.
“I’ll at least watch this one…” the Koopatrol said, looking at Morton.
“Okay,” Lemmy said happily. “But I warn you, he can be quite a handful…”
“I think I can handle it,” the Koopatrol replied.
“All right! Let’s go find Uncle Wart!” Larry said.
“Thank you all!” Susan spoke. “Let’s get going!”
The Koopalings started walking northbound,
but then broke out into a run when they heard a mighty roar and fierce
battle sounds coming from upstairs…
Chapter 11: The Mercenary
“Toadsworth…” Peach spoke in frozen fear. “That is no new flag of ours… it belongs to the X-Nauts…”
Toadsworth gasped and started to tremble. “What could have happened?” Toadsworth asked in despair.
Peach mind started to flash with all kinds of horrifying images of how it could have happened.
“Are you okay?” Toadsworth asked.
“Of course not!” Peach snapped. “Oh Toadsworth, I’m sorry… but what are we going to do?”
“King Toadstool always said that if anything happened, you were to be taken to safety,” Toadsworth replied.
“But I’m not just going to leave everyone at the castle behind!” Peach complained.
“It’s what King Toadstool wants…” Toadsworth persisted.
“Well this is what I want!” Peach said forcefully.
“Princess… I would like to help you, but what can we do?” Toadsworth asked.
“Just help and we can think of something…” Peach spoke.
“Oh all right, I’ll help.” Toadworth replied.
Peach was very grateful that Toadsworth would help her, but he did have a strong point. What could they do…?
Meanwhile in the throne room of Mushroom Kingdom Castle…
“Sir Grodus,” an X-Naut PhD spoke, “I am here to give you an update on the time machine…”
“Ah yes,” Grodus spoke from the king’s throne. “How is it coming?”
“Well… it seems to run fine… it’s just that it lacks power. We need more Starmen,” the X-Naut PhD spoke.
“This is a problem…” Grodus said. “Crump, get in here immediately!”
Then the throne room door opened to reveal Lord Crump.
“You called?” Crump asked.
“Go interrogate that Toad some more… I have a feeling he knows more than he’s letting on…”
“You filthy traitor!” King Toadstool boomed.
“You MUST understand! We’re talking about COFFEE SHAVINGS here!” Toad protested.
“The Starmen are supposed to be protected and you just hand them over like some common Mushrooms!” King Toadstool yelled.
“I only told them the location of ten… I mean, come on! Ten out off one hundred isn’t very much…” Toad said.
“Yes… but it’s the fact that you WOULD betray us for coffee shavings that scares me…” King Toadstool spoke.
“Someone comes!” the Chancellor said hastily.
The dungeon door was opened and Lord Crump walked in. “Open Toad’s cell!”
“Yes dude, sir, dude,” the X-Naut spoke as he unlocked the jail cell.
!@#$^&$*()*+|_)*(&*^&$^%#$@#@!” Toad yelled fiercely.
“Umm, right… okay…” Crump said, grabbing the pint-sized Mushroom man. “I’m taking you to THE ROOM for interrogation.”
“Not THE ROOM! Anything but THE ROOM!” Toad begged.
“Well either way you'd better start talking…” Crump spoke firmly.
King Toadstool glared at Toad, which was a sign to stay quiet.
“^&$%^$%#@$^$&!” Toad shouted.
“^#$*^&($%#$@##@$%&^)&*(&!” Crump responded.
“Oh Mario…” King Toadstool spoke. “When are you coming…?”
“If we are to help anyone, Princess, then we need help…” Toadsworth said.
“Yes, I know!” Peach replied in an annoyed tone. “It’s just that no one’s even here! All of Toad Town is empty!”
“I bet the X-Nauts took all of the people too…” Toadsworth said worriedly.
“We just have to do something!” Peach persisted.
“Well when you get any ideas please tell me!” Toadsworth said.
Peach sighed and sat down to think. Peach then closed her eyes to concentrate.
“Curious…” Peach heard Toadsworth mutter, but she ignored the comment and tried to think harder. It was several more moments before she lost her concentration. It wasn’t from giving up, it was because Toadsworth intervened…
“Princess! The sky!” Toadsworth exclaimed.
Peach instantly lost concentration and looked up to see what Toadsworth was babbling about. There was an emerald glow in the sky and it seemed to get closer every second.
Peach and Toadsworth continued to look at the light.
“I wonder what-” Toadsworth was cut off from his sentence when a glowing green net wrapped around him.
Peach screamed as the green light came down. The light itself appeared to be fire coming from the jetpack of a mysterious, cybernetic armored figure.
“Stand still, Princess,” The figure spoke with a masked voice.
“W-who are you?” Peach asked fearfully.
“Heh heh, I am Judas, bounty hunter and best ranked mercenary in Plit!” the figure spoke. “Ah, Grodus told me about you. He said that there were two residents of Toad Town that still run free, you and your steward,” the figure spoke.
“S-stand back… I’m w-warning you…” Peach threatened.
Judas chuckled. “Yeah, listen… I didn’t come here to listen to jokes and empty threats.”
Peach knew that this person could easily take her and that she couldn’t possibly run away, so she tried a different tactic… a bluff. “Don’t come any closer!” Peach shouted. “Or I’ll get Mario!”
Once again Judas laughed. “Will you really? Well then I can complete two assignments in one fell swoop: capture you and terminate Mario!”
Peach knew she was in trouble now…
“So where is he?” the Judas asked.
“RUN, PRINCESS!” Toadsworth shouted.
“Stuff a sock in it, old timer!” Judas said sharply. “Listen, Princess, I want information and I want it now! I know you know the whereabouts of Mario, so tell me now and that will make both of our lives a whole lot easier!”
“I’d never tell you Mario’s location so you could kill him!” Peach said disgustedly.
“Listen,” Judas spoke. “It’s been a really long day and I’m really tired… so a little cooperation will do nicely.”
Peach shook her head.
“I was hoping you would do that,” Judas said with evil glee.
Peach was sure that this was not a good thing at all. That was when Peach noticed that Judas clicked a button on his arm and the area around his wrist elevated. Then to Peach’s horror she realized it was a rapidfire wrist gun.
“Start talking or your little friend here bites the bullets!” Judas spoke strongly.
Peach screamed as Judas loaded the gun up and aimed it at Toadsworth’s forehead. “Are you scared, Mushroomer?”
Toadsworth was frozen still, his heart beating extremely fast.
“It’s okay…” Judas said. “Just don’t blink!”