Paper Mario: Return of the Shadow Queen

By Chris "Wario"

Chapter 2: The Observatory

It was a beautiful day in the Mushroom Kingdom. The sun shone through the large oak trees in the yard. Mario, lazy as usual, sat reclined on a sofa taking a well-deserved nap. He opened his eyes a bit as he heard someone walk into the room.

“Mario!” Luigi yelled, “Mario! Wake up! Did you hear the news?”

Mario’s eyes popped open. He sat up and shook his head no.

“They’re finally opening up the observatory on Shooting Star Summit! Scientists from all around the world are coming to Toad Town to see the unveiling.” Luigi smiled. “Peach, of course, is going to be attending and she wanted me to tell you to come. It should be a lot of fun. Now we commoners will be able to see the stars in Star Haven without ever having to bother them!”

Mario jumped off of the sofa and ran to his drawer. He grabbed a couple of things he might want to munch on, like some Fried Mushrooms Tayce T. had made for him a few days ago. When he had sufficient snacks, he and Luigi walked into their yard and hopped in the warp pipe. When they emerged, they were at the entrance of Toad Town. A Toad ran up to Mario and Luigi.

“Mario!” he said happily. “Peach is waiting at the castle for you to escort her to Shooting Star Summit.”

Mario ran to the gates of the castle as quick as he could. Luigi finally caught up to him.

“Mario, calm down.” He panted. “Peach will still be there when we get there, just… calm down.”

Mario nodded. The wide doors of the castle slowly opened and Peach stood inside.

“Hello, Mario! We should leave now for the ceremony. We’re already running late,” Peach said as she waved.

Mario gave a glare to Luigi, saying what ceremony? Luigi shrugged. Nevertheless, they began walking to Shooting Star Summit.

* * * *

They finally made it to the observation tower. It had a telescope larger than any of them had ever seen before. Outside of it was a large crowd of people, all looking up at a podium. Atop the podium was an old Toad who wore glasses and had a long beard. Mario and company had just walked in on the middle of his speech.

“However, we must remember to use the observatory for scientific purposes only. We are seeing into the world of the stars. It is their world, not ours. We must respect their privacy. We are entrusting the protection of this facility to our most capable Toad guards. If this observatory ever fell into the wrong hands, the thieves could learn secrets of the stars that were not meant to be known. Who is that in the back there? Is that Princess Peach? And Mario? Everyone, let’s give a round of applause to these great local dignitaries.”

Everyone turned to face Mario’s group and began clapping and cheering. Mario, a little surprised, waved back. Peach did the same, and then she looked over to Luigi, who stood glaring at the old man who hadn’t mentioned his name. She gave him a gentle nudge and he reluctantly started to wave as well. The sound of the applause became drowning after awhile.

Luigi turned to Mario and asked, “How long do we have to stand here waving like this?”

“You guys better get used to this kind of treatment,” Peach said, “because you’re celebrities now.”

Luigi smiled at the idea, but now even Peach was getting annoyed at the prolonged fanfare. The applause suddenly stopped. Luigi sighed with relief as he put his tired arm down. But his smile quickly dissipated as he turned to see why the crowd had stopped so abruptly. Bowser stood behind them, showing a menacing smile.

“Right on cue, as usual,” Peach sighed.

“BWA HA HA!” Bowser bellowed. “You’re as cheerful as ever, I see.” He turned to look at Mario. “You’re here, too? That’s to be expected. Déjà vu, huh Mario? Anyway, I’m sure you are all waiting for me to give a long monologue of what my newest diabolical scheme is and why I think I can finally beat Mario. Well, I don’t want to disappoint the fans!”

Kammy Koopa flew down from somewhere and handed Bowser a pair of glasses and a sheet of paper. Bowser plopped the glasses on his nose and squinted as he tried to read his speech.

“AHEM! 2 Dozen Eggs, 3 Pounds Goomnuts, 2 Mushrooms…” Bowser looked hard at the sheet of paper. “This is my shopping list, you idiot!” He slapped Kammy on the back of the head. “Where’s my speech?!”

“Here it is, Your Evilness,” Kammy said.

“That’s better. Now where was I… Oh yes. Mario! This may come as no surprise to you that I arrived on cue for dramatic effect. I have grown very good at it over these past few years. Not to pat myself on the back, but I have come up with the most diabolical scheme ever conceived. I am going to takeover this observatory and use it to spy on the Stars and learn their ancient secrets!”

Bowser looked up from his sheet of paper, smiling. He saw dozens of empty stares meeting his gaze. His eyebrows furrowed.

“What?” he asked, confused. “Was it something I said?”

“He just said that,” Luigi answered.

“Who did?” Bowser asked.

“That guy.” Luigi pointed to the man on the podium.

“He stole my idea? WHAT NERVE! I’ll pummel him and the rest of you into the dust!” Bowser yelled.

Mario jumped in front of the crowd, braced for action.

“How am I not surprised?” Bowser chuckled. “Let’s go, Mario!”

Bowser blasted fireballs in Mario’s direction, which he quickly evaded. Mario ducked behind a nearby boulder as flames billowed past him. He jumped for Bowser’s head, but Bowser quickly turned around and Mario slammed into his spiked shell. As Mario peeled himself off, Bowser laughed. “You won’t beat me so easy this time! I started using my brain!” Bowser popped out of his shell and quickly clawed Mario in the face. Mario tumbled backwards and hit the rock he was just hiding behind.

He popped back up and shook his head, trying to regain his concentration. He focused, trying to find Bowser’s weak spot. As he watched Bowser laughing at his failed attack, he realized it was Bowser’s ego that was his ultimate weak spot. Mario struggled to get up, and then fell over, faking defeat. Bowser’s laughing stopped.

“What? That’s it? I beat Mario? That easy?” Bowser looked around, shocked.

“Mario!” Peach cried.

“Wow.” Bowser looked down at Mario, “I finally achieved my goal in life. And yet, it somehow seems lacking. My life has always been about finding ways to beat Mario. Now he’s dead.”

Everyone stood, totally quiet.

“YAAAAAAAAAY!” Bowser bellowed. “I WIN! I WIN! I WIN!”

As Bowser danced around like a kid in a candy store, Mario’s eye popped open. Bowser had his eyes closed as he laughed hysterically and jumped around. This was Mario’s chance. Mario jumped up from the ground and slammed his hammer into Bowser’s chest. Bowser grunted as Mario delivered a second blow to Bowser’s head and a final, crushing swing to his back. Bowser flew into the sky.

“NOOOOOO!” he yelled, crying as he soared into the distance.

“Homerun, Mario!” Luigi laughed as everyone watched Bowser’s trip. The air filled with cheers as Mario once again became the hero of the day.

To Be Continued...

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