Going the Distance

By Digo

“You’re late again Digo! Hurry up before you miss the inspection!”

There were two sounds that rang out instantly. One was of Digo attempting to leap out of bed and the other the sound of a wall cracking. If you apply the laws of physics and add the fact that Digo’s bed is up against the said wall, you now can surmise that he painfully “got up on the wrong side of the bed”.

This makes it the third time this week and it's only Tuesday.

“Toadie? Did I oversleep again?” Digo mumbled. Digo Koopa sat up and rubbed his eyes. Digo was a Yoshi/Koopa hybrid. Hybrid creatures were rare and so far in Ice Land the only known type of hybrid is a Yoshi with a Koopa species.

Digo’s Yoshi half was a light blue color with a white under belly. His Koopa half was a ‘Hammer Brother Koopa’. This half gave him a black shell at birth. Also, as standard issue for Hammer Brothers, he wore a black helmet when on duty.

“Geez Digo, your father is going to pop an artery!” Toadie shouted, walking into the room. Toadie was once a royal guard for Princess Peach known by the scientific term ‘trouble-maker’. After the incident involving a case of root beer, three packages of gelatin, and Peach’s bathing suit, Toadie was exiled to Ice Land on charges of ‘Attempting to recreate Mushroom Castle of out of Lime Green Jell-O’.

Since then Toadie had lived his years among the Koopas, but he never swore alliance because he'd rather ‘get strained through a chain linked fence’ than become a Goomba. Besides, he hated black shoes. Toadie always wore his oversized Mushroom hat with blue dots and the second baggiest silk pants on the planet (first baggiest rumored to be the one with the ‘My Little Pony’ pattern that sits in Bowser’s closet).

Digo stood up and grabbed his helmet. “I know! I know! I’m just not a morning person. Come on Toadie, we’d better hustle!” Toadie leaped on Digo’s back. Digo’s Koopa shell wasn’t as comforting as a normal Yoshi’s saddle shaped shell, but he was still a ridable Yoshi. “Hang on tightly Toadie!”

“Yeeeeeeeeeeee-haaaaaaaaaaaaaw!” Toadie screamed in rapturous joy.

The pair sped out of Digo’s house and down the icy cavern towards the academy. Because of Ice Land's always frozen climate, many of the Koopa inhabitants chose to live in the warmer caves. Still, the caves had their own dangers, like slippery ground, falling icicles, and occasionally a late Digo hurrying to catch up.

“Look out!” Digo yelled out, applying force to his purple boots to attempt a futile effort to stop. He crashed into several Hammer Brothers and the group spilled over like a cup of spaghetti without a bottom. “Oh, so sorry! I didn’t mean to-”

“You freak of nature, watch it!” shouted one Hammer Brother.

“Hey, who you calling a freak, you freak?” Toadie snapped.

Digo stood up.  ”No, no… it’s okay. Come on Toadie.”

Toadie pulled up his pants. “Don’t let these brutes bother ya Digo!”

Another Hammer Brother stepped up to Toadie and pulled up his belt. “You wanna make something of it, midget?” He glared down at the small ‘shroom.

“Yea…” Toadie answered, pulling up his pants more. “I wanna make something of it.” He glared back with all the tension of a scarecrow.

“Oh yea?” the Hammer Brother sneered, pulling up his belt even more.

“Yea…” Toadie said, pulling his pants even higher.

“Oh yea?”


 “Oh yea?”

 Toadie glanced at Digo, who at this point was about to either burst into tears or would have to wet himself from the tension. “Fine then,” Toadie relented, “Come on Digo, let’s leave these losers behind. But just remember, we’re not leaving cause we’re afraid of you. We’re leaving 'cause I can’t pull my pants up any higher.”

“Smooth Toadie,” Digo mumbled, walking away with what little dignity he had left. “You’re going to get me kicked off the force… or worse yet, killed!”

“Ah, the Hammer Brothers Demo team is overrated. All you guys do is guard the entrance to Koopcicle City from the Yoshis,” Toadie remarked.

“That’s important!” Digo argued, “The Yoshis are our enemies!”

“Then what are you?” Toadie said, swiping his helmet. Toadie glared at his helmet with disgust as he pondered over a strange plastic attachment on the front. “What in Star Road’s name is this?”

“It’s a visor!” Digo explained, snatching it back from Toadie. “It’ll protect my eyes from the freezing winds and snow.”

“And make you look like a geek,” Toadie interrupted.

Digo put his helmet back on. “That’s private geek to you! Just don’t make me look stupid in front of the other Hammer Brothers.”

“Oh, no problem,” Toadie cracked, rolling his eyes, “You’re doing a wonderful job on your own.” The two made it to the grounds in time to see the Hammer Brothers start their drills. Digo ran over quickly and stood at the end of the line, fumbling for his hammer. He found it, resting on the foot of the Hammer Brother next to him.

Digo eeped and picked it up, apologizing profusely.

“Private Digo Koopa!” shouted a familiar voice, “I wanna hand you three more demerits for being tardy today, but as it is I’m already writing on the back of your records! What is your major malfunction, soldier?!”

“It’s too early to get up,” Digo replied.

A large and rather angry Sledge Brother tromped up to Digo. Sledge Brothers are the Giant Land equivalent to Hammer Brothers. Large and hefty, Sledge Brothers are the most feared of the Hammer Brother species.  “What did you say?” the Sledge Brother asked, reaching for Digo’s throat.

Digo held his ground, but he was ready to burst into tears.  “I… I…”

“Let him go, Lieutenant,” another voice commanded.

The Sledge backed off. Digo looked to the voice. It was his father, Julius Koopa, the general of the entire company. A tall and very strong Hammer Brother, Julius had been fighting in the war against the Yoshis of Ice Land for many years.

“You’re lucky your father’s the general, you little punk,” the Sledge grumbled.

“Geno,” Julius grumbled, “Take a five minute break. Troops dismissed!” The Sledge Brother grunted and took the troops with him. Julius stepped up in front of his son. “Digo, is something wrong?”

“Dad… I don’t think I’m cut out to be a warrior,” Digo admitted.

Julius put a hand on Digo's shoulder. “Digo, you’re such a marshmallow. Son, the icebergs in the sea may look small at first, but under that small frail exterior is an enormous mountain that not even King Bowser can stop. Son, you’re gonna be that iceberg, you will be some one someday.”

Digo looked up into his father’s eyes. Digo was short for his age, and very weak. In fact he was given a smaller hammer to wield then the other Hammer Brothers because of his lack of strength. “Dad… thank you.” Digo gave him a hug.

The large Hammer Brother smiled. “Now get yourself on home and into bed. You'd better be up bright and early tomorrow for duty, boy.” Julius chuckled at his remark and Digo nodded, skittering off quickly home.

On the way he bumped into Toadie again- literally.

Toadie made a loud squeak sound as Digo flattened him. “Toadie! I’m sorry, I didn’t see you.” The Koopa helped his little Mushroom friend up.

“Yea, likewise you big lunk,” Toadie replied.

Digo felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned around only to get knuckles in his jaw. Digo spun once and hit the floor hard. Some one picked him up and forced him up against the wall. “Well now… if it isn’t the freak.”

Digo opened his eyes. Two Boomerang Brothers were pinning him. “What do you guys want? My money?” Digo asked.

“No,” said one, “We wanna take you down, pretty boy.” He smacked Digo across the face. Then again… and again. Blood began dripping slowly from Digo’s mouth. “What’s the matter? Daddy’s little boy can’t stand up for himself?”

“Knock off all that evil!” shouted a familiar voice.

“Oh no…” Digo groaned.

Everyone turned his or her attention to the alley. Toadie stood there, arms crossed and a mean expression painting his face. “Time to serve up some justice. Mini Hammer Man style!” Toadie leaped into battle, arms flailing.

Suddenly some sort of strange rap music bellowed out of the alley as a group of cheerleaders popped up shouting, “Mini Hammer Man! Mini Hammer Man! If you know what he can, Mini Hammer Man!

“What the…?” Digo mumbled as the Boomerang Brothers let him go.

Toadie dove into the two Brothers and with a series of sweeps and jabs knocked them both down. As they began crawling away, a large group of Hammer Brothers surrounded him. “Uh oh,” Toadie remarked, “Time for… the SHADES!”

The cheerleaders screamed in awe.

Toadie reached for his shades and in two strokes put them on. A sudden wave of ASCII codes flew by the lenses like a Unix system starting up. The shades spoke out: “Cool factor increased: 97 percent.”

“Excellent,” Toadie stated with glee.

The Hammer Brothers charged. Toadie leaped into the air and bicycle kicked his way through the crowd, his shoes making the sounds of fury!

Squeak Squeak Squeak Squeak Squeak Squeak Squeak Squeak Squeak


Toadie reached Digo as half the crowd ate the ground. “Digo, you okay pal?”

“Yea… what’s with the weird music, and where’d you get the girls?” Digo asked. He struggled to his feet and put a hand on Toadie’s shoulder. “I don’t feel so hot.”

“You shouldn’t, it's Ice Land,” Toadie said to the tune of a drum sting. “Let’s blow this Popsicle stand!”  With a snap of his fingers, the background's rap music changed to a chase theme. Digo and Toadie skittered off into the distance, leaving the goons to pick up their fallen comrades.

Toadie managed to get Digo home safely, but due to the fact it was ladies' night at the local bar and he wanted to smooth talk a few ladies into sharing their shells with him, Toadie ran off after quickly saying goodbye.

Digo stumbled in the door of his house. His mother was cooking lunch in the small kitchen of their cavern home and quickly took note of her son’s injuries. “Digo! What happened to you? You weren’t jumped by Yoshis were you?”

“No Mom,” Digo answered,“It was a fight with some of the boys.”

Digo’s mom sighed and went into the kitchen for some things. Her name was Maggie and she was indeed a full Yoshi through and through. Her soft light blue skin radiated her motherly heart, and her gentle eyes, compassion. “Come here Digo. Don’t let those bullies get the best of you. Did Toadie help you out?”

“Always does Mom. He likes to fight,” Digo explained, “But I don’t.”

Maggie cleaned Digo’s wounds. “Digo, there will come a time when you have to stand up for what you believe in and fight for it. No one will give you anything otherwise. Do you know why I married your father?”

Digo shook his head.

“Because he fought for me,” Maggie explained, “He didn’t want me enslaved like other Yoshis because he saw something special in me. And now I see something special in you.” She finished cleaning her son up.  “One day you will see, Digo.”

Digo hugged his mom tight. “Thank you Mom. I love you.”

Maggie patted her son on the head. “I’ll always be with you Digo.”

Digo lay on his bed sadly. Several hours passed, and it was definitely afternoon by now. He glanced at his helmet with the visor modification he had attached to it last night. He had yet to test it though, and for some reason he had no incentive to either. “What a waste…” Digo mumbled.

There was a knock at the door. “Digo,” his mother began, “One of King Bowser’s Koopa Kids has arrived by doomship. Why don’t you go take a look? I’m sure you’re father could introduce you to the royalty.”

“It’s okay Mom,” Digo sighed, “I’m busy.”

“Sulking doesn’t count, dear,” Maggie corrected.

Digo sat up. He picked up his helmet and put it on. “They’re just gonna make fun of me Mom,” Digo complained.

“Then why are you putting on your helmet?” Maggie asked.

Digo blinked, “How did you know that?”

Maggie opened the door and walked into the room. “Because I’m your mother, dear. I know these things.”  She sat on the bed and adjusted his helmet and belt. “Digo, you gotta dress to impress. You don’t see your father slack on attire, right?”

“Mom, don’t badger me,” Digo said, trying to makehis way to the door. His mother chuckled and let him go.  Digo ran for his hammer on the kitchen table and bolted out the door towards the City Square.

Sure enough there was a doomship hovering over the square, and everyone was gathered there to see it.  Digo would have to fight off a crowd to get close enough. “Dang, how can I get in?” Digo looked around.

“Balloons, balloons for sale!” shouted a Koopa.

Digo blinked, “Wow, this has to be a set up!”

“This is not a set up, balloons for sale!”

Digo ran over and grabbed the balloons from the Koopa. The Koopa wrestled back, but Digo clunked him on the head with his hammer. “Hey, you gonna pay for that you little freak!” the Koopa shouted in pain.

“Sorry!” Digo hovered up into the air above the crowd. Luckily, no one paid any attention to him. This assumption was made due to the fact that A) No one liked him, and B) He was hovering within firing range of the entire Hammer Brothers’ squad and they would be more then happy to chuck a volley of mallets in his direction.

Since A) No hammers were flying at him from what Digo could tell and B) He was floating straight into one of the airship’s propellers, things were going quite smoothly… ignoring part B, that is.

Now Digo struggled to come up with a plan B… no wait, plan B was the propellers. Okay, plan C was now formulating. Digo was hurrying because in just another minute he’d connect with B, and be cut up into D+20 pieces shot across E, F, G, and H, which marked the crowd, the podium, the funny blue haired geek stepping out of the doomship, and the deck. As much as he hated to spill on F, on which stood his Dad on spot I moving to J, across where the blue haired geek was standing K, and all hell, Digo let go of the balloons and dropped…


Digo blinked, trying to focus again. He was nose to nose with another Yoshi… or was she a Koopa?  Actually she looked like both. “Oh!  I… sorry to interrupt,” Digo stuttered. She was quite beautiful. She was a green Yoshi/Koopa hybrid with clawed hands and feet and a purple shell. She had long black hair combed neatly behind… no, check that, she had messy straggly hair tangled from Digo’s fall into her room. “Um... hi there,” Digo said politely, smiling a little.

She fidgeted, regarding the stranger as she might regard a dead fly she had found floating in her soda.  “Erm… hi...” she muttered, taking a step back. Digo attempted to move closer but was stopped abruptly by the pointed edge of a boomerang.

“Hold it right there, mate,” a Boomerang Brother said in a thick Australian accent as he kept the intruder at bay. “Nobody lays a hand on this ‘ere lass ‘cept her appointed man.” Digo was about to ask what he meant when the aforementioned geek stepped forward.

“You call me her ‘appointed man’ one more time and you’re going to be swallowing that boomerang!” the Koopaling threatened. His fangs bared, his front overhanging one glistening dangerously as a cold arctic wind tousled his wild blue hair.

Digo blinked. THIS was her ‘man’? This wasn’t a man; this was Ludwig von Koopa, Bowser’s oldest son.  “Whoa...” Digo said. “Hey, I didn’t mean no harm. Just wanted to get a closer look at who was coming to our city.”

“Close enough!” Ludwig von Koopa shouted, “Cast him overboard, boys.” Ludwig turned to the lady. “Karma, you gotta stop inviting riff-raff onboard my ship!”

“I didn’t invite him!” Karma replied.

Digo blinked as he was being dragged away. “That’s her name,” he thought, “Karma Koopa… Oh! I made myself look like an idiot in front of her.” Digo sadly let out an exhale of air.

“Hold on,” shouted a deep voice. The general of the Koopcicle City Hammer Brothers, otherwise known as the father of the city's only freak, approached Digo. “Let him go, he’s harmless.”

“How would you know?” Ludwig asked.

“He’s my son,” Julius replied.

The Boomerang Brothers backed off. Digo stood up, shaking and clutching his hammer nervously. He looked to the Yoshi hybrid Karma, his fears dissipating quickly.

Ludwig leered at the general. “Well please tell your son to kindly stay off of my doomship and to keep his paws to himself.”

“I don’t see how he’s doing any harm,” Julius explained, “He just seems to have taken a liking to your friend there.” Digo’s father huffed, getting a bit irate. Ordinarily he was used to the pompous attitude of King Bowser Koopa and his children, but sometimes they could really overstep their bounds.

“SHE,” Ludwig replied with a loud, firm tone, and pointing at Karma, “is not a ‘friend’. She’s my fiancée.”

The general bit his lip to keep from laughing. Fiancée? That was a laugh! The poor girl would be driven off of her rocker in less than a month if she had to marry him. He could only imagine what the children would look like... or rather he WOULD have imagined it had a sharp yell not cut him off.

“Geez!  Get away from me!” Karma barked, retreating from Digo, who looked confused and slightly hurt.  Digo had only taken a step forward to introduce himself, but Karma took it as ‘I’m going to eat you’.

Get away? Why? Digo didn’t understand. Was he a freak to even another hybrid? She was the first hybrid he had EVER seen besides himself. Was it common where she came from to find hybrids? He had to know. “I just wanted to introduce myself. I’m Digo.”

Digo’s father sighed, “Come on Digo, your mother probably will worry sick over you.”

“Oh no, you should be the one worrying,” Ludwig threatened, “I’m putting your son to work on doomship repairs, and his mother will be reprimanded thoroughly.

“Sir… y- you can’t!” Julius shouted.

“Dare defy my whims?”

Julius bowed his head. He knew what Ludwig was capable of doing to his wife. “No sir… I am not.”  Ashamed, Julius took his son Digo and left the airship to put Digo to work on something that hopefully Digo could handle.

Ludwig shook his head. “I’m deducting damages out of this city’s meager chocolate supply. Someone take note: hybrids should be locked up.” He walked off with his guards, barking orders as to what needed to be done.

Karma heaved a sigh as she watched him order the underlings into action. It wasn’t that she was disgusted by the other hybrid... more so, that he had frightened the living daylights out of her. Yoshis and Koopas certainly didn't mix. Plit knows she had heard that several times in the walls of Koopa Castle. But if there were more like her, then maybe it was possible to prove them wrong. She felt a smile begin to creep on her lips, when her thoughts were interrupted by a hand on her shoulder.

“Karma, if you’d like to make yourself useful, take this clipboard below and take a roll call on the city’s troops. There should be forty-three underlings, save for the fifteen helping me up here.” Ludwig shoved a clipboard and pencil into her hands.

“Is that an order, Kooky?” she smirked smugly. If she had a lot in life at the moment, it was making sure she made his life as difficult as possible. He scowled at her in return.

“Just do it,” Ludwig replied without interest, “And don’t call me Kooky. I hate that nick name and you know it.”

The underlings happened to be the Hammer Brother division. Apparently, Ludwig was interested in a check of the city’s main defense for some reason. As Karma approached the line, she saw out of the corer of her eye that one Yoshi hybrid that crashed into her room earlier. Apparently he was being forced to do hard labor by working on the doomship’s propellers, something he obviously couldn’t handle, let alone anyone skilled in mechanics.

She sighed, deciding it wasn’t her battle. She blew a tuft of black hair out of her eye and began calling out names. The troops obediently called back with a ‘Here!’ or ‘Yes, ma’am!’ Doing tasks like these always made her feel like some tyrannical monster. “Heh... all I need is a cat of nine tails and I’m all set,” she mused to herself. “Digo!” she called, awaiting the response. Nothing. “Digo Koopa?”

“Oh!  He- WOAH!” Digo cried as the propeller, which had been spinning in lazy circles until he had loosened it, caught under the lip of his shell and lifted him, spinning him in a few kamikaze circles before he was sent hurtling across the frozen ground and into a snow-bank. Karma just remembered why that name was familiar…

Digo jumped out of the snow-bank, his visor down. “My word, it worked! I didn’t lose an eye!” He lifted the visor and hurried back right up to Karma. He saluted, “Digo Koopa rep... orting... oh... you.” Digo suddenly felt like he was gonna be the butt end of a joke. “What now... more work? Or just more lashing on my mother?”

Karma looked at him through half-lidded eyes before simply checking his name off on the list and moving on. Digo watched her continue down the line, taking names as they were barked at her. She certainly seemed to be on a high horse. Perhaps she was full of herself because she knew she would be marrying royalty, for whatever reason, someday. Digo sighed and shook his head, returning to the propeller and deciding she wasn’t really worth worrying over... or was she? Even though she had an awful attitude, she was still quite striking. Maybe she had just fallen in with the wrong crowd. Maybe under that hard shell, she was really a sweet, caring…

“DIGO! Get back to that propeller!” his father ordered, “Mom’s not getting out until you finish there!”

Digo hurried back and did what he could, which was mostly bashing the propeller till it worked. Not like he knew how to fix things, but his aptitude in tinkering helped a lot. Finally the propeller began working correctly and spun up to full speed. Digo backed off and sighed with relief.

He ran into the doomship, where Ludwig was enjoying a chocolate meal by himself. Digo couldn’t remember the last time he had received his chocolate rations. Digo carefully approached, “Sir, the propeller is fixed, can I have my Mom back?”

“Huh?” Ludwig snarled, “Oh, yea sure kid. Talk to Karma, the one you flattened. She can do it. Now leave me to my chocolates.” Digo sighed and ran.

It didn’t take him long to find Karma. She was finishing up the roll call when Digo ran up and tapped her on the shoulder. “You’re Karma, I remember! Can I have my Mom back, please?”

Karma looked confused. “Your Mom?”

“Well Ludwig said you’d be able to let her out of the prison,” Digo explained, fidgeting with his hammer.

“Kooky ALSO thinks he’s a good musician, but that doesn’t necessarily make it so,” Karma said with a sigh, “Okay... what’s she look like, Digo?”

“A Yoshi,” he answered simply.

“That helps… would you like to be more specific?” she grumbled.

“Well how many Yoshis do you think there are in this city?!” Digo yelled.

“True…” Karma replied, “Lead on.” Digo led Karma to the city prison facility. Sounds of whips and yelps were heard all throughout the building. Digo clamored on the big metal door before him.

A peephole opened up. A pair of beady eyes looked down at Digo. “What do you want, you little freak?”

“Let my Mom out!” Digo exclaimed.

“On whose orders?” the eyes replied.

“Hers,” Digo said, pointing to Karma.

The eyes blinked once. “Fine.” The door opened and a badly bruised light blue Yoshi was released. Digo rushed to her aid as she flopped to the ground.

“Mom! Mom, I’m so sorry I messed up...” Digo cried.

Maggie held her little boy. “It’s okay dear,” she replied weakly, “I’m still proud of you.” Digo started crying and Maggie instinctively wiped his tears.

“Mom, why do they always punish you for my mistakes?” Digo whispered.

“It just is...” she replied.

Karma cast a sympathetic look from the hybrid to the Yoshi, feeling pity sting her heart. Had her family not been scattered to the four winds, she wondered if they might have turned out the same way. Her heart couldn’t take it anymore. “Enough!” she growled through clenched teeth, stalking back to the doom ship.

“No! We’re ten minutes behind schedule as it is!” Ludwig shouted, “This isn’t going to- eh?” Ludwig questioned the appearance of an angry Karma in his midst.

“Okay Mr. Grand-High-Poobah-of-Upper-Buttcrack! You and I are going to have a talk starting NOW and finishing when I say so!” Karma snarled, lifting a lip to show her pointed teeth.

The Koopaling looked confused, “Who took a dive in your coffee?”

Karma continued, “You might think its fun torturing Yoshis on your own time, but when I'm onboard this ship you are not going to touch ANY of them! You hear me Kooky?!”

“Feh... I don’t take orders from females...” he grumbled angrily. Karma raised her hand and her response came as a stinging blow across his jaw. He blinked, bewildered. Had she just HIT him?  He felt his cheek, still stinging. She had…

“There’s a first for everything,” Karma said with anger in her eyes. “Keep your claws off of that hybrid’s family, LOVE,” she spat sarcastically.

“Fine,” Ludwig growled, “Boom Boom! Lock the hybrid’s family up, that way no one bothers them. Oh, and bring me their little boy. Sweetums here gave me an idea for his next job.”

The large BoomBoom stomped out with just a grunt. Ludwig cast a cold stare at Karma. “Maybe I can’t harm you, but peasants are dime a dozen. Boys, my lady needs rest.” Ludwig left and the Boomerang Brothers locked Karma in the room.

Karma stood indignantly, trembling with rage. Ordinarily Kooky was at least livable when they were at home... a bit eccentric perhaps but livable, and he made an effort to be friendly once in awhile.  She hated accompanying him on trips concerning official business. He was so absorbed in looking important and being official that this was how things usually ended up. She would mouth off or make a remark he less than cared for, and because he had the power to do so, he’d have her locked up, where as back at Castle Koopa, they’d have simply resolved things with a good old fashioned argument or wrestling match.

“I don’t know where you learned to treat a lady, Kooky, but this is NOT scoring you any brownie points with me!” she shrieked at the closed door angrily, her tail lashing. Then, without skipping a beat, she whirled around and quickly eased open the small porthole window and slipped through it. Her years of pipe traveling had made it easy for her to fit through small openings. If he thought she was going to sit and let him do this, BOY did he have another thing coming.

Boom Boom had Digo cornered and was beating the shell off his back. “Where be your parents?” the behemoth grunted. Boom Boom couldn’t find Digo’s mother or father and so had decided to take matters into his own fists.

“Not... telling,” Digo replied. This got him another knuckle sandwich in the jaw. Digo went spinning to thefloor. In a desperate attempt to save his own life, Digo grabbed his hammer and smashed it on Boom Boom’s foot.

“ARRR!” the beast roared. He picked up Digo around the neck in one hand. “You hybrid… freak of nature!  Boom Boom smash!”

Digo strained to get free but Boom-Boom was too strong. “Hey look! Here comes the circus!” Digo blurted, pointing over Boom Boom’s shoulder.

“Huh?” the creature drawled, looking behind himself and blinking stupidly. Digo, though he was battered and ached all over, took this opportunity to wriggle out of Boom Boom’s grasp and ran fast and hard... not pausing to look back even when he heard the monster's enraged bellow and heavy footsteps as it followed him. The hybrid’s heart pounded in his chest wildly but he felt he had enough of a head start to out distance the monster eventually...

“Oof!” Digo cried, running into something... or rather, some ONE.

Karma winced and looked to see who she had hit, immediately recognizing Digo. “Please... he’s trying to get my family... help,” Digo pleaded between gasps for air.

Karma, though she was still seething at Kooky, managed a smile. “I’ll take care of it,” she told him, “Get behind me.”

Digo favored her with an odd look but complied, hiding himself behind Karma. Boom Boom approached, teeth gritted and snarling as he paused before Karma, pounding a clenched fist into his open palm. “Me smash blue bug!”

“You like to pick on little guys, huh? Well why dontcha pick on me, you big fat headed tub of lard?” she asked Boom Boom with a smirk. The creature, brawn winning over brains, immediately took a jab at the hybrid, his fist colliding with her nose. Green blood trickled from her nostrils.

“Oh my lord!” Digo exclaimed, moving to defend her.

“Shh… I’m making a point,” Karma whispered. She shouted out, “Go ahead! Hit me again!” Boom Boom shrugged and pounded her again, blacking one of her eyes.

“You’re crazy!” Digo exclaimed.

“Hey, maybe I am.  But if anything opens Kooky’s eyes to how big of a dork he’s being, THIS will. Hit me again!” she ordered, this time loud enough for everyone on the doomship’s deck to hear.

“NO!” Digo yelled, getting in the way. Boom Boom’s fist connected with Digo instead of Karma and the little blue hybrid made a soft yelp sound as he flopped to the floor like a rag doll. Digo didn’t move afterwards.

People began gathering around to see the commotion. Ludwig pushed himself to the front of the crowd, steamed as usual. “What in Chocolate’s name is going on here?” Ludwig yelled. “You, big dumb one, start explaining!”

The big monster blinked. “Boom Boom hit funny little blue thing and blue thing went squish.”

“I can see that Tonto...” Ludwig scolded. He saw Karma's injuries. “I told you that hybrid was good for nothing! Look at you!”

Karma attempted to explain, “No, Boom Boom…”

“Hush, not another word!” Ludwig commanded, “Go wash up. We’re leaving now! Let that… thing to die.”  The crowd departed more so from Ludwig’s wrath than from Ludwig. Karma grabbed Ludwig by his upper arm and gave a mighty yank backwards. He looked at her, mingled anger and puzzlement in his eyes.  “What?” he asked in confusion.

“Let that ‘THING’ to die? Excuse me?!” she asked angrily, “In case you didn’t notice I’m a ‘thing’ too, Kooky.”

“That’s different,” he answered simply, “You’re not-”

“I'm not what?” she interrupted. Ludwig paused. “Go ahead,” Karma stated, “I’m not WHAT?!” He didn't answer. “Now you listen to me... he didn’t lay a hand on me. That idiot underling of yours pounded me while I was protecting Digo.”

“Then it's your own fault,” Ludwig shrugged, “You shouldn’t have-”

“Let me ask you something,” Karma interrupted again, “If that Boom Boom had been pounding on one of your family, wouldn’t YOU have gotten in the way, or at least have tried to stop him? I have no family... but seeing another hybrid is as close as I’m going to get!” Karma huffed for breath, “Or maybe you’re too pig-headed to even see that?”

“Karma, stop getting in the way,” Ludwig answered. He grumbled, rubbing at his temples to stave off a forming headache. “I don’t want you getting hurt anymore.”

“Really? What would you do if I just took a flying leap over the side of this ship once it took off?” she inquired, curiously.

“I'd die without you... you know that,” Ludwig answered, “It’s not a choice of mine.” He sighed, a defeated tone in his voice.

“You do have a choice, Kooky Von Koopa...” Karma replied sternly, “You either get that halfling some medical help right now or you’d better get used to the fact that your life’s going to be considerably shortened in a hurry here.”

Kooky opened his mouth to say something and closed it again. He knew he was cornered and he knew she had his tail in the ringer... he didn’t like either of those facts very well at all. At length he sighed. “Medical station... now,” he said to a nearby underling, pointing at Digo’s still form.

“What compassion,” Karma spat sarcastically. Kooky glared at her but said nothing. He walked away angrily, cursing himself for ever meeting her.

Digo awoke in a soft cozy bed. He moaned a little, his bones sore. Once his vision came back into focus he noticed Karma sitting beside his bed. “Where?”

Karma patted his arm. “It’s okay. You’re in the infirmary in your city, not the doomship. Heaven forbid I let Kooky anywhere near you!”

Digo sat up slowly. “You’re taking care of me?” he asked.

“Well... no,  just… watching you,” Karma answered.

Digo picked up his helmet from the table next to the bed. “You know… you’re the first hybrid I’ve seen besides myself. I just… well, until I met you I felt I was alone in this world. I wanted to get to know you.”

Karma put on half a smile. She thought to he self, 'You know, he wouldn’t be half bad if he wasn’t such a klutz.' Karma leaned closer to Digo. “Digo, thank you for taking that blow from Boom Boom for me,” she said.

Digo smiled, “Maybe we both started off on the wrong foot, Karma. Can we start over and be friends?”


Suddenly the tender moment was ruined as Toadie burst through the door. “Digo, hurry! The Yoshis are attacking!” Toadie grabbed Digo’s arm and dragged him away in a hurry. “Come on, we’d better head to the nursery!”

“Yoshis? Attacking Koopcicle City? What ever for?” Digo asked.

“Same things they always want. More heat, more chocolate,” Toadie answered. They continued running until they were able to see the fighting going on in the streets. It was total chaos, to put it lightly.

A large hole leading to the surface was where the Yoshis were storming. Both the Hammer Brothers and the Boomerang Brothers were doing their best to fend off the attackers, but with little luck. Koopas were snacks for the dinosaurs.

“Toadie, we’re getting slaughtered!” Digo shouted.

“No kidding,” Toadie replied. He crashed into a hat vendor.

“Hats! Hats! Get your ‘I survived the Yoshi attack’ hats here!”

Digo and Toadie exchanged glances. “A bit early. don’t you think?” Digo asked the vendor. Toadie grabbed a red cap and waved it.

“Uh, Digo, the nursery?” Toadie nudged.

“Oh right!” Digo snapped back into focus and rushed over to the nursery, several caps hanging off his tail.  Digo and Toadie walked in as the Yoshis were stealing baby Koopas for food. “Ah, stop it!” Digo shouted, trying to rush in and stop the Yoshis. It didn’t do any good, there were just to many Yoshis.

“Digo, your hammer!” Toadie shouted.

Digo grabbed his hammer. In a swift stroke he threw it, allowing another to appear in his hands. He threw that one as well and yet another appeared. The magical nature of Hammer Brothers allowed one to volley a number of hammers at a specific target. However, Digo wasn’t too accurate and only pegged a few Yoshis.

Toadie rushed in and grabbed whatever baby Koopas he could, only to have another Yoshi grab them away.  Toadie finally nabbed a baby Koopa wearing blue overalls. He stuck the red cap on the baby’s head. “You remind me of someone…”

“Goo goo?”

“Nah, not Princess Peach,” Toadie remarked in answer. A Yoshi dove for Toadie and sacked him, the two crashing into a washing basin and sending the baby Koopa into one of the larger bubbles. The mere shock sent the baby crying madly.

“Good grief, what an annoying cry!” Digo shouted. He ran over and grabbed the baby.  Sitting him on his back, Digo raced out of the nursery. “Come on Toadie!”

“If this isn’t an obvious rip off…” Toadie remarked.

The Yoshis began tromping towards Toadie and Digo. Toadie stopped in his tracks. “Run to the doomship, Digo, I’ll hold them off!”

“What?!” Digo shouted, “Are you mad?”

“No… I am… Mini Hammer Man!”

Toadie popped out the shades and instantly the cheerleaders returned, along with the strange rap music. “Mini Hammer Man! Mini Hammer Man! If you know what he can, Mini Hammer Man!” the girls shouted. Digo kept running, listening to the sounds of Toadie pummeling the Yoshis with his fury.

Squeak Squeak Squeak Squeak Squeak Squeak Squeak Squeak Squeak

Digo ran until he saw the doomship taking off. He had to act fast or he’d be stranded and likely killed. Koopa Troopas waved at Digo to throw the baby up to them. Digo raced closer, but the doomship continued to sail for the exit. Digo ran full tilt towards the doomship and pitched the baby to the Koopas. Several daisies and blue faces appeared overhead like some sort of crazy roulette. It stopped on a face.

“I never get the bonus rounds…”

Digo ran to one of the few hanging rope ladders and ascended. Other Koopas, Hammer Brothers, and other citizens of Koopcicle City scrambled to get up to the safety of the doomship as well. However, the Koopas already on it began cutting the ropes. Digo scrambled to a small platform hanging off the side of the doomship. Looking back he saw his father on the rope just below him.

“Dad!” Digo shouted, “Where’s Mom?!”

“Son, you have to go with this ship, where ever it goes,” his father said, hanging on for his life. The Koopas above began cutting the ropes to the ladder.

“What about you and Mom?” Digo asked.

His father shook his head, “I’m sorry son, but your Mom wouldn’t be allowed on board. And I cannot leave her behind. You have a chance to live, son. Go… make this the beginning of your destiny.

“No!” Digo cried out, “Don’t leave me, Father!”

Julius handed Digo his hammer. Digo was barely able to lift it effectively, let alone use it. “Son… don’t be a coward. Follow your heart. It’ll guide you.” Julius let go of the rope just as it snapped. He plummeted to the crowd of Yoshis below. Digo didn’t look, he didn’t want to look.

Digo sat on the deck alone. The baby had apparently crawled off somewhere and everyone on ship went below deck to stay warm. Digo didn’t care; he had just lost his family, his only friend, everything. He clutched the hammer close, the only thing he had left…

“Follow my heart?” Digo thought… “Follow… I think I understand, Father…”

The End… For Now...

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