The Toast's the Thing; or, Hats off to (Roy) Koopa:
On the last installment of what may be called a marginally continuing story, the princess finally found her bumper sticker, and, in the process, managed to assist Toad with his personal life. It seemed that, miraculously, the Royal Retainer actually had a date. However, as is usually the case, Toad found himself tangled in a web of his own lies as he promised a crazed Toadette that he would get the unreachable Marios to rescue her recently captured uncle, Toadsworth.
Meanwhile, Iggy and Junior made off with the chamberlain and bumped into Rabbit.
And, in a strange turn of events, the Koopas may once again thank Slim Jims for their misfortunes, as the strange woman who occupied Morton's hotel had “a few too many” and fell under the hysterical spell of the awful snack, and started believing that she was in fact the real princess of the Mushroom Kingdom. Though she was convincing enough for the Marios, and their rescue mission was about to be completed with this delirious tourist, Roy quickly absconded with her to his own hotel, under the impression he would be getting her to the Marios more quickly.
Clad in a black, two-piece business suit, and adorned by a tasteless pink polka-dot bow, Wendy O. Koopa strode down one of the decadent halls of her recently inherited casino, attended closely by a squad of obsequious assistants. She carried with her a clipboard, which she was using for some kind of reference as she made various examinations, en passant, of different locations in her hotel. The inspection seemed to be going well, when suddenly her team of advisors nearly tumbled over one another as she halted capriciously before a large glass tank.
"Wha- what is this?" she asked, gaping in disbelief.
Apparently, a phone booth had been immured into the wall as a decoration, and, what's more, it had a live shark wedged uncomfortably inside of it. One of the attendants collected himself and attempted to explain this odd spectacle.
"Er... well," he began, preening himself, "this one comes from the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’ collection, and is very postmodern, I think - a good conversation piece."
"Oh yeah, it’s a conversation piece, all right," Wendy replied sarcastically. With a peculiar expression on her face, she walked over and made a mock examination of the tank. "Huh. Wow, Jeff, this lady is a freaking idiot."
Witness to this circus act, one of the Troopas could not restrain his laughter, and began to giggle. Wendy leered at him.
"You think this is funny?"
"You make it seem humorous! I can’t help it!" he pleaded.
The Koopaling narrowed her eyes. "Look, bub, I’m not runnin’ some two-bit Hollywood Cafe here. I want atmosphere and quality, not some helpless shark stuck in an awful phone booth!"
Wendy sighed and placed her hands on her hips. She gave her team a contemptuous glance and looked over her left shoulder.
"What happened to the talking fish that I ordered?"
"Well, you see..." the same intrepid assistant explained, "the problem is that... you see, the talking fish weren’t real. They were merely puppets on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse."
Wendy groaned. "Ugh, you gotta be... whatever. I'd like to try doin' something and not end up bitter and disillusioned. Just once." Her advisors were silent.
"Let’s just move on..."
Before Wendy and her troop could continue, the operation was arrested by the murmur of a heated argument coming from one of the gambling floors up ahead. They followed the sound up to one of the poker tables, where, sure enough, some of the casino patrons had become rowdy.
Noticing the approach of the casino staff, Toxic Seahorse became annoyed. "Ugh... guys, see, you're making a scene..."
"All right, what's going on here?" asked Wendy.
"Oh, they're fighting again..." Overdrive Ostrich said timidly. "I'm really sorry about this..."
"Bubble Crab was my friend!" shouted Blizzard Buffalo. "I can't believe you would be so flippant as to make fun of him after you killed him!"
Mega Man folded his arms. "Look, buddy, I just do what I gotta do to get through my day, just like you-"
"Bullocks!" cried the mechanical Buffalo. "Bullocks! It didn't have to end that way. And then you have to go and desecrate his memory like-"
"I'm tired of always being labeled the bad guy!" rebuttled the fighting robot. "I've had to destroy some of my own friends! You know what that feels like? Cut Man and I were like this!" he said, crossing his fingers to illustrate his point. "Do you think I enjoy taking their powers? Do you think I get some sort of sadistic pleasure out of it?!"
"Yeah. You know why? Because you're that kind of person, Mega Man."
"Oh, here we go..." sighed Mega Man, rolling his eyes.
"Hey, guys," interposed Q-bert, who was sitting at an adjacent table, "do you mind? I'm gettin' kinda tired of listening to this."
"Hey, butt-out of this, pal!" barked Blizzard Buffalo.
"You know what, Buffalo?" continued Mega Man. "You act like such an altruist, but you never complained when I destroyed Flame Stag, or Sigma eight times, or Top Man- What about Top Man?"
"Bubble Crab was my friend."
"You want to know the real truth?" imposed Mega Man. "Bubble Crab was nothing more than a cheap water robot that tried to kill you with spikes on the ceiling."
"That was Bubble Man, you imbecile!"
"Gentlemen, please..." began King Dedede, coming between the belligerent robots.
"Now, while I do enjoy a good argument, I am a busy man, with a plantation and all, and I would like to finish this here game we have started." He sighed and looked around the table. "Now, as a southern gentlemen, I know that there is only one sure way to settle a dispute: a duel."
"My thoughts exactly," snorted Blizzard Buffalo, smacking the poker table to the side.
Wendy snapped to attention. "Okay, call security."
A bar of health suddenly materialized above Blizzard Buffalo's left shoulder. After a brief caesura which occurred while the meter filled, the two robots began to feud.
Mega Man immediately began to charge his weapon as he dashed to the left side of the room; meanwhile, Blizzard Buffalo fired a series of icy projectiles that formed obstacles on the ground and wall, serving as impediments to his opponent's advances.
Dodging the projectiles, Mega Man furiously wall-jumped against a single wall to stay in the air, until Blizzard Buffalo came crashing under him in a steady charge, shattering the icy spikes. Seizing the opportunity, Mega Man gave himself a boost over the mechanical beast and fired his charged shot into the Buffalo's back.
As the scene ensued, Wendy was approached by Oobi and Kako.
"Wendy want something?" asked Oobi.
"Uh, yeah," Wendy responded sardonically, "do you mind stopping that?!" she shouted, pointing to the explosive yet oddly iterative struggle taking place on the casino floor.
"Yes. Oobi and Kako stop fight," announced Oobi, as the two hobbled over to the scene of the action.
They chased after the robots as the battle moved from the right side of the room to the left, then back again to the right. After there had been enough of this, Blizzard Buffalo stopped and fired a tremendous blast in the direction of his opponent. Once again, Mega Man dodged the attack via his famous wall kick, and, landing in front of Blizzard Buffalo, was able to deal the final blow.
As Blizzard Buffalo began to explode, the entire room glowed with a strange blue sheen. Scarcely anything could be seen or heard over the prolonged combustion of this unfortunate robot, and, after the dust had cleared, Wheel Gator ran over and knelt down next to the scorch mark it had left on the carpet, lamenting the death of his old friend.
"Why?" he grieved. "WHY DOES IT HAVE END LIKE THIS?!"
Mega Man walked up to the sobbing robot. "It is a law of the universe," he explained in a solemn tone. "The weak must die a pitiless death, while the strong, who kills as he clings desperately to life, must move on, having lost part of his humanity."
Having said this, Mega Man walked into the center of the room, wherein a quick anthem began to play. After it had finished, he made a shiny-smile and raised his fist into the air, then transformed into a beam which teleported into the sky.
"Wow," chortled one of Wendy's attendants. "I guess it's tough to be a robot, eh?"
Oobi and Kako bounced over to Wendy. "Fighting stop," reported Oobi with a gentle giggle.
Wendy. "Yes it has. All right... can we clean this up, please?" The frustrated
Koopaling walked away, shaking her head.
Princess Toadstool poked through the doorway of Toad's quarters to see if he was still asleep. She had always found it difficult to bring herself to disturb a sound sleeper, whether they had requested a wake-up call or not. Some of her worst childhood memories were bound with interrupting people's naps. Even when she was young, she had a sense for the rancor directed toward her, akin to the way one channels ill-will toward a ringing alarm clock in the morning, and loathes its sound even while awake.
Peach opened the thick wooden door and tip-toed over to her servant. “The Garret”, as Toad referred to it, was a small, unkempt living space that served essentially as a bed and laundry hamper for the Royal Retainer. Its multicolored walls were decorated with assorted pin-ups, reflecting the Mushroom's various “interests”; there were movies and Sobe bottles scattered across the floor; several empty coffers, formerly used to provide the Marios with equipment and power-ups on opportune occasions, now helped to contain a raging current of maroon vests, blue trousers, and Power Rangers underwear; piled next to these coffers was a large assembly of anchors, and in the corner, on the other side of the room, was an old guitar with the pick guard pealing off.
Toad was lain on his side, facing away from a television that was tuned-in to America's Funniest Home Videos. Peach placed her hand on his shoulder and began to nudge him.
There was no response.
With some trepidation, Peach raised her right hand and quickly jabbed Toad in the forehead with her index finger.
"Ugh... What the..." he mumbled.
Peach became nervous. "Uh... it's just me... remember? You told me to wake you up?"
"Huh?" squinted Toad. "Oh, yeah. Geez, did ya have to do that?"
"Sorry," offered the princess. "What are ya watching?" she asked, prevaricating.
"Oh... well, this just came on... but this show is great. I love those montages where people get hurt. All of da funniest ones I've ever seen have been in those montages."
"Hmm," mused the princess. "I figure you'd be watching Discovery or something-"
"Bah!" he said, dismissing the thought with a gesture. "People who watch Discovery are too smug for me. It's like those people who bash McDonalds..."
"Yes..." said the princess, rolling her eyes. She'd heard this before.
"Ya know, I mean..." began Toad, shaking his head, "these people have no taste, so they watch Discovery, and they sit there and bash McDonalds to try to look sophisticated. It drives me crazy."
"I know, Toad."
"I'm... I'm not defending McDonalds, don't get me wrong... What they do in indefensible."
"Hey, um... Toad, about the whole Mario thing..."
Toad sat up, suddenly recalling his conundrum. "Oh, yeah? How did that work out? Will they do it?"
"Well, they weren't there."
"What?!" exclaimed the Mushroom. "Where could they be... Ya called 'em more than once, right?"
"Yup," nodded the princess.
"Well, did you check their cell?"
Toad looked puzzled. "Maybe... maybe they’re online or somethin'..."
"Nope," the princess responded. "I tried instant-messaging them and just get a very delayed away-message."
Toad threw his blankets off. "Ah, phoo..." He began to pace in front of his bed, then stopped and looked down at the floor. "Ah, man... What am I gonna do?"
"I don't know, but you’d better think of something," cautioned the princess.
Toad thought for a moment. "Hey, uh... can I, uh... see your cell phone? I wanna try da Marios."
"They weren't there, Toad."
"Okay, okay. Just... I wanna try 'em a little later."
"Well..." sighed the princess, who fetched the phone from her pocket, "okay... just return it when you're done."
"Yes, yes. Thank you," he said, looking affectionately at the princess, "thank you, Princess."
"Uh... okay... Good luck."
After she had
left the room, Toad quickly dialed a number and prepared himself for a
very undesirable confrontation.
Just a short distance away, an old warehouse was lingering in a twenty-year doldrum of inactivity. In less than a moment, it would come out of its coma as Roy Koopa scampered through its front doorway, causing the sound of clattering metal to echo through its vacant halls. He shut the door behind him with his foot and began to fumble around for a light switch. Roy had been waiting by Morton's old tree since the very beginning of the plan, so he hadn't yet acquainted himself with the architecture and organization of his would-be hotel. Though it was still the afternoon, it was oddly dark inside as most of the windows in this brick house had been boarded up. Try and imagine a Sam's warehouse, but entirely destitute of goods and supplies, and clearly unattended for many years, and you may have a sense for the old property this Koopaling had incurred. It also seemed, as Roy flipped a switch, that the lighting in the warehouse was not properly working. This was much to the choler of our sympathetic reptile, who wore sunglasses even indoors. The entire place was empty, and, although there were quite a few doors going through several stories, the center floor was clear with some machinery, to permit whatever kind of former work went on there.
The Koopaling ran upstairs and started to search for an ideal place to keep his newly acquired hostage. Since he was going to be giving her up, he needed to find a room that would be secluded from the Marios, but still accessible enough to return to quickly. Unfortunately, because he was unfamiliar with the arrangement of the building, Roy's search was mostly in vain; to make matters worse, his shades rendered him completely helpless as the lights continued to flicker on and off.
Somewhat arbitrarily, he found a room and set the princess down. He leaned on his thighs, panting, and looked over at the offender who had been the cause of all the trouble. Roy became distressed as he beheld, what appeared to be, a mutilated Princess Peach impersonator, whose vacuous stare and empty smile had her verging on just-plain-creepy. Even in this predicament, she seemed blithely unconcerned for her own safety.
"Uh... what is this?" Roy asked himself.
"Oh, I'm Princess Toadstool!" she responded cheerfully.
Roy looked to his side. "Uh, no. You got bats in da bellfry, lady."
"Oh you big silly!"
"Big silly?" Roy said indignantly. "What am I, some kinda freakin' joke to you?"
"Ah, for cryin' out loud," Roy said, folding his arms.
This was perplexing for Roy. If, for instance, the Marios were chasing after this “fake Peach”, where was the real princess? What had gone on up in that tree? Were the Marios idiots?
Roy thought for a moment. "Are, uh... are the Marios comin' after you?"
"Oh, of course they are!"
This was enough for Roy. Even though he wasn't sure where the real princess was, Roy conjectured that it would be an excellent strategy to try and pass off this “freak” to the Marios, if it would just get them to go away.
"Okay, uh... Yeah... those plumbers should be showin' up any time now, Peach," Roy said, humoring the woman.
"Oh, good. Once they get here, they'll put a stop to your evil plan!"
"Ah, yeah?" he countered, playing along. "I'd like to see 'em try."
"You're the most despicable, crud-loving villain of them all, Roy Koopa."
"Yeah well, you know what, Princess? I don't like you, either, ya know? Maybe, maybe... you're the despicable one... ever think of dat?" Roy said, as tears started to come to his eyes.
"Yeah!" he cried, with clenched fists. "I'm tired a' you standing in the way of our happiness!"
"The Marios will stop you."
"No, NO!" he insisted. "They... can't. They just... One of these days, I mean..."
"You'll never get away with this!"
"No, no you'll never get away with this, Princess..."
"The Marios will be here any minute to pound you!"
"No, they'll be here any minute to pound you!"
Well, someone was getting a pounding, because at that very moment Roy's heart sank as he heard the doors opening on the ground floor. They were here.
"All right..." Roy said as he looked around. "You!" he barked, pointing at the woman. "Stay here!"
Roy ran outside and looked over the balcony to the ground floor. Sure enough, the Marios had found the warehouse without a problem.
"Hey, Marios!" Roy shouted. "I've got the princess up here! Why don't you come up if you know what's good for her!"
The Marios looked at each other and stumbled in Roy's direction. Roy ran back into the room he had come from, but the princess was gone.
"Ah, no! Er... Thought this was the right room..."
The Marios began to pound on the door. "Hey," shouted Mario, "open up in there!"
Soon, with a loud crash, the Marios had completely busted the door off of its hinges.
"Now that's what I call - a slammin' entry," said Luigi.
"Okay, uh..." said Roy, thinking on his feet, "you've fallen for the first part of my trap. You'll never find the princess now!"
"Tell us where da princess is, or I'll bust your freakin' shnoz!" threatened Mario.
Although Roy didn't have a nose, this was still quite intimidating.
"We have ways of - getting you to talk," said Luigi as he cracked his knuckles.
"Er... you'll never catch me!" Roy shouted, running into one of the adjoining doorways and thus plunging himself into the warehouse maze. He soon found himself running into walls and doors, trying to find his way around a musty labyrinth.
"Uh... Why do I wear these things indoors..." he muttered, adjusting his shades.
"Should we go after him?" asked Mario.
"Eh... I'm sure we'll see him again," answered his brother, pausing.
Roy was now faced
with a two-fold challenge - one, avoiding a Mario thrashing, and two, finding
some loopy chick. Though, essentially, he was searching for someone, he
felt hunted like an animal. As he ran through a series of dark rooms, he
became haunted by a memory of the past...
"Well, uh..." mumbled Toad, as he scratched his right temple with his index finger, "First of all, thank you very much for coming."
The Mushroom paused and propped his head against his hand.
"I know it's, uh... kind of a long drive," he continued in a strange voice, looking away from his guests. "Where... where did you guys say you came from again?" he asked, glancing across the table.
Seated across from the Royal Retainer was the perfidious persona non grata of the Mushroom Kingdom, Wario, along with his lesser known but still sufficiently reviled brother Waluigi.
Wario had become engrossed with a deck of cards he had found on the table, and offered a curt response. "Er... Diamond City," grumbled he.
"We... like to call it, 'Warioland'," added Waluigi.
"Wow, Diamond City," mused Toad. "Yeah, that is a hike. That's gotta be out by Mobius, eh?"
"What are these?" asked Wario, shuffling through the cards.
Toad became irritated. "Uh, please put those down." Wario ignored the Mushroom's request. "Please..." he repeated, while reaching across the table and gently prying the cards from his visitor.
Toad began to shift in his seat. Being forced to ask a favor of the Warios was, on a general level, the kind of awkward position he worked assiduously to avoid; it also posed a particular difficulty, owing to a rather unfortunate misunderstanding that occurred several years earlier.
After serving for some time as an entry-level servant of the princess, and in spite of his unrelenting fussiness, a cadre of power-possessing officials decided that Toad had demonstrated a sufficient degree of capacity worthy of meriting him a promotion to the position of Royal Retainer. Though the details of this occupation were vague at the time, the scale of the transition was such that the Mushroom couldn't help but accept the proposal with a kind of uncharacteristic glee.
One morning, during the earliest part of his tenure, Toad was perusing a list of errands that had been left to him by the princess. He was particularly struck by the final chore on the list, which asked that he infiltrate a certain piece of private property and annihilate all wildlife presently existing there. Having not yet acquired a “taste” for the unmitigated flakiness of his mistress, and therefore lacking the proper discrimination necessary for undertaking one of her inane vagaries, he picked up the groceries and, afterward, proceeded to this very place to carry out the genocide.
Now, it just happened that the owner of this “certain piece of private property” was none other than the same Wario whose rotund form was now punishing, without mercy, a petite wooden chair in Toad's underground hideout. At the time, this lovable oaf was just settling into his recently acquired living space, and Toad's cruel operation came as quite a surprise to the poor fellow. The clueless Mushroom managed to carry out his mission despite Wario's repeated warnings and overt resistance, leaving an indelible mark on the yellow-clad treasure hunter.
It turned out that, allegedly, the princess put the job on the list mistakenly, during a momentary lapse of reason after having shortly risen from a disturbed slumber. In the end, only a Pac-Man nightmare was to blame for the horrific incident; and although this helped clarify the issue, and some time had passed since then, Wario's umbrage had not been attenuated to a point where Toad felt comfortable asking him to do something like this. However, he knew that this was the only way, and as such had prompted his former enemy to meet with him in this secret hideout, where similar clandestine activity had taken place between the Mushroom and the item-desperate Marios.
Waluigi was quite indifferent to Toad.
The three sat in silence for a moment. "I, uh... I like the mustache. It's a good Mustache," offered Toad.
"... Mustache?" Wario replied, giving his brother a quizzical look.
"Yeah, ya know I thought of growin' one. How do you get it like that?"
Wario made a dismissive gesture. "No, no..."
"No really. I can picture myself in a mustache like that-"
"NO," he snapped. "I'm... I'm not tellin' you how I do it." Wario looked away and took another sip of his RC Cola. "Terrible soda," he said to Waluigi, shaking his head.
"Aha... well," began Toad, "ya see... I got this problem. Toadsworth has been kidnapped."
"Ya know, the chamberlain...?"
"We... never really got into the whole princess thing," Waluigi explained.
"Okay..." Toad responded with palpable irritation, "well, there's this guy who got captured, right? And I've got this date in like three hours, so I can't rescue him."
"Yeah, so?" asked Wario.
"I kinda promised this girl that I would get the Marios to do it, but I can't get in touch with them..."
"Well, basically..." Toad went on, "I was wondering... if... you guys would be willing to dress up like da Marios and do the job for me...?"
The Warios looked at each other.
"I don't know..." said Wario. "You said there was a reward involved in this?"
"Ah, yes!" smiled Toad. The ball was finally in his court. "Gentlemen, have a look at dis..."
Toad dismounted his seat and motioned for the Warios to follow him. He brought them before a decrepit closet in the corner of the room, and with an air of suspense, flung the door open. In a flash, a large, golden banana glided into the center of the room, leaving a sparkling trail. It began to rotate as though on display at the emporium of some demented collector, while its presence was officially inducted by a mysterious, robust voice which intoned "oh, banana..."
"Woah..." bellowed Wario.
Waluigi squealed in delight, then ran over to the revolving golden fruit.
"Remarkable... Where did you get it?"
"That is a secret, my friend," Toad gloated. "It can be yours, too - if you do the job, that is."
"Yes..." consented Wario, raptured in the glow of the banana. "Yes. We'll do it!"
"Excellent. I suggest getting started right away. To give you a head start, I have these costumes for you..."
Toad walked over to the sofa and pulled a stack of clothing out from under it.
"Here ya are."
"Okay!" Wario chimed. "We'll have that chamberlain back faster than you can say River City Ransom!" said Wario, rolling his r's.
"Oh, and there's another thing, guys..." added the Retainer. "Ya see, you're really... hated and distrusted, around the castle, so... I gotta ask ya to really try to pretend you're da Marios doin' this, okay?"
"... Hated and distrusted? Who said that?" asked Waluigi, confused.
"Well, ya know..." thought Toad, shaking his head. "The princess, I think..."
"And, uh, Plum, and Daisy too. They really hate you guys."
"They said that?" ached Waluigi.
"Why would they slander us like that?" demanded Wario.
"I don't know..." Toad mumbled.
"Oh..." choked Waluigi. "Okay..."
"It'd be better just to stay away from the castle altogether," said Toad, as he continued to try to work out a way he wouldn't become implicated with these brothers. "Just stay as far away - I, I can't even think of goin' in there and not hearing, oh, life sure is good without those fat slob Warios comin' around".
Wario and Waluigi looked at each other.
"So get goin' to Mushroom Circuit, I'm sure ya can work somethin' out there," said Toad, handing the Warios their new uniforms.
"Okay," said Wario. He held the blue trousers up to his body. "Look at me, I'm Mario!"
"No, no..." said Toad. "You're doin' it all wrong. You gotta do it..." Toad paused and looks at you. "Like dis!"
Wario looks at you. "Oh, yes!" he said, pausing.
The Warios soon made their way out the door.
really outdone yourself this time, Toad," thought the Mushroom to himself.
With this, he returned the wondrous banana to the closet, and headed back
to the castle to try to get a little sleep.
"What are ya, a nancy-boy?"
Roy's heaving breath felt cool and abrasive against the back of his throat as he barreled down a flickering corridor. He stumbled recklessly through every room, convinced that the only way to evade his assailants was to keep moving.
"One thing I ask ya to do, one thing! And you can't handle it..."
As his coordination began to falter from exhaustion, Roy wavered and tripped on a small pile of debris, landing face-first in a large heap of bubble wrap. He lay there for a short while, allowing himself to recover from the chase. Then, as though his body had violated his own will, Roy sat up and made a loud groan.
"Hey, Roy, guess what? I've challenged the neighbors to a game of laser tag down at Fun Zone. Now we can finally give those Turtles a Koopa clobbering!"
"Ugh!" Roy gagged. "Gotta keep movin'!"
The frantic Koopaling wasn't sure what was going to happen if the Marios caught up with him; he didn't want to know. All he wanted was to find the strange, demented Peach so he could finally put an end to this debacle of a scheme. As he raced through a seemingly endless gauntlet of unfamiliar rooms, he thought about Morton and what had happened to him. While he mourned for his brother, Roy was reminded under the blinking lights of his long-buried frailties, and was more desperate than ever to avoid the same hideous fate.
"How could you let this happen?! I was counting on you... on you... on you..."
Roy began to panic under the weight of his old memories. When he stopped to catch his breath, he ran his hands over his face and discovered that he was bleeding at the mouth. Evidently, when he fell into the bubble wrap he accidentally bit his tongue. With the taste of his own blood in his mouth, he sat back against a wall and began to reminisce...
A dimly lit room with a low ceiling is obscured by artificial fog. Strange Styrofoam obstacles are placed throughout the room, and behind one of the bunkers is Bowser Koopa with a few of his children.
"Where is Iggy? Where is he?" he says, scanning the room.
Roy, Lemmy, and Ludwig are sitting behind their father, passing uncertain looks.
"Ugh... Shouldn't o' sent him out on his own. This guy is a master..." the Koopa King mutters to himself.
"Dad, I'm tired of laser tag," whines Ludwig. "I'm not having fun anymore. I just want to play the Simpsons arcade game..."
"No one's playin' the Simpsons until we beat the Turtles!" he shouts.
Lemmy and Ludwig groan.
"Uh, sir, once again, your two-hour limit has expired. Please come out of there..." comes a voice from over the P.A. system.
"No! We finish this today!"
Roy Koopa is seated behind his two brothers, huddled over. He clutches his laser tag gun closely against his small body, feeling the shape of its decorations again and again. He is careful not to let his father hear him whimpering.
"Okay..." says Bowser, thinking, "you two go out there. Roy and I will stay here with the prisoner."
"I keep telling you, this isn't dodgeball! There are no prisoners!" argues Franklin Turtle from the corner. "This is dumb... I'm sick of this stupid game."
Lemmy and Ludwig are off, as Bowser watches them closely from behind.
"Okay..." he begins directing to himself, "Lemmy, cover his flank... ugh, terrible formation... er, now they're makin' too much noise..."
Bowser pulls out a handkerchief and wipes the sweat from his brow.
Lemmy and Ludwig soon disappear from their father's sight. Suddenly, he hears their screams come from the distance.
"Oh!" moans Bowser. "Geez... How good is this guy?!"
"Come on, Dad!" shouts Franklin. "Can we please go home already?"
"Now, now, son," he hears his father say from the distance, "the family honor is at stake here. Maybe if you hadn't gotten captured you'd be having a little bit more fun, hehe."
"Oh..." groans Franklin, resting his head against his hand. "I was wrong... Dad's grifting phase was a lot better than this..."
Roy remains still, without saying a word. He knows what is coming.
"All right, Roy, it looks like..."
Suddenly, as Bowser stands up to speak with his son, the small digital buzzer on his armor rings. He is hit.
Roy bursts into tears. "I don't want to go, I don't want to go!" he cries, terrified.
"Look boy," begins Bowser, "there's only one guy out there. If you can get him, you'll, uh... you'll be my favorite son."
"Please, Dad, no..." he pleads.
"What are ya, a nancy-boy? Get out there!"
Roy slowly makes his way down the misty aisle. He is sweating more than he ever had in his short life. He glances scrupulously form side to side, searching for any sign of life; the room seems empty. Suddenly, a shadow flashes by behind him; he turns and points his trembling weapon at undulating fog. He soon notices that his whimpering is audible, and tries to calm himself. Then, one of the obstacles explodes, sending him flying back. The flames are reflected in the lenses of his thick-framed prescription glasses. Maybe, he thinks, Mr. Turtle thinks he got him with that. Roy decides to play dead, but before long, a large figure appears in front of him...
Roy clutched his head, which writhed in a pounding headache.
"No, not again..."
Outside of the room, a ceremony is being held by the Fun Zone staff in honor of the victorious Turtles.
"Thank you, thank you..." says Mr. Turtle, waving to a crowd of indifferent Fun Zone customers.
One of the attendants approaches him. "In honor of your achievement," he begins nonchalantly, "here is a coupon for one free pizza at Papa Gino's."
The audience claps. "Ah, yes, this is a great day for the Turtles, isn't it?" he gloats. Then, he looks over at Bowser. "All right, Koopa, you remember the dea"
"Yeah, yeah." Bowser walks over and hands his opponent Baby Wendy. "Er... this one's gonna be hard to explain to the wife."
On the periphery, Franklin is preparing to leave when he bumps into Roy.
"Uh... good game?" he says, offering his hand to shake.
Roy just stands there, sniveling, with tears running down his eyes and snot dripping down his nose…
Roy's piercing scream resounds throughout the surrounding forest, sending a large flock of birds flying into the sky.
Mario bumbled into a small room on the ground floor.
"Hoho! Here's the problem - too many toasters!"
Indeed, he found the shelves on the wall were brimming with active toasters, and that every one of them was plugged dangerously into the same overburdened electrical outlet. Here was the source of the flickering lights, and, as a seasoned plumber, this was exactly the kind of textbook problem he had expected to encounter.
"You know what they say..." said the ruthless stereotype as he held up a loaf of bread, "all toasters toast - toast." As he looks at you, there was a pause.
Mario unplugged the toasters, and, in a fantastic display, they launched their contents into the ceiling with one whole-grain convulsion. Sure enough, the lights came back on.
Meanwhile, Luigi had become occupied inspecting an old piece of equipment he had bumped into. While he was trying to make something out of this large, mechanical calliope in the smoky sunlight of the factory floor, the lights came on.
"Well, another mission accomplished," announced Mario, as he came out of the room wiping his hands.
"Huh..." said Luigi, examining the machine and pausing. He poked it with his finger.
"Whatever happened to dat Koopa Kid?" asked Mario, with his hallmark pause.
His brother waited for the pause to finish. "All I heard was a tortured scream..."
"Good enough for me!" piped Mario. "Hey!" he said, spotting the strange woman wandering aimlessly outside. "There she is! Come on, Luigi!"
Luigi started to follow his brother outside. He looked around the empty hotel.
"Hmm..." On the ground, he spotted a large wooden sign that read “condemned”. "Oh, perfect!" he exclaimed, picking up the sign and stopping in place for a moment.
Consummating the operation, the Marios posted the sign on the broadside of the building. "That ought'a do it!" said Mario, with hammer in hand.
Suddenly, the “princess” fell into a pipe.
"Where'd she go?"
Where did the princess go? What will happen to the other Koopalings? Are the Warios competent enough to pull off their new mission?
Next time, Communication Breakdown; or, Mario Kart: Double-Take.