Author: LightningLaveau PM
AU. Updates occasionally. Largely MKDD!-based but contains references to a plethora of Mario titles. In the racing-obsessed bowels of the disordered Mushroom Kingdom, Bowser's eccentric karting team tops the charts. Through a series of twists and turns, Bowser will rise to meet his true destiny - sinister though it may be.Rated: Fiction T - English - Crime/Drama - Bowser & Toadette - Chapters: 19 - Words: 105,153 - Reviews: 52 - Favs: 24 - Follows: 13 - Updated: 01-15-13 - Published: 01-07-09 - id: 4777932
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Greetings! Please note that this fic is rather visual-heavy (I originally intended to make it a graphic novel but it wound up as a text fic...for now!) so please check out thatmariokartfic on tumblr for supplementary images.
Part One: Ante Up
The shadow in his rear view mirror gained in sharpness and color, until the whites of their eyes were visible as the redhead wound up to throw—
He never slowed down. Not once. The colossal green spiked shell danced past them as Bowser swerved aside, almost too smoothly to notice.
"Shell to four o'clock. Don't let 'em faze you!"
Koopa yelped an affirmative and chucked the shell in the direction of their pursuers, then another, then a third—yes, a hit—
Watch for the waterfall, watch for the waterfall—YES! Good. Hairpin drift—
Bowser steered the kart not away from the legs of the massive brontosaurus just ahead, but under them, and Koopa grabbed an Item box as Bowser avoided the pounding feet. Otherwise, they'd be crushed—
"Last lap, man! Focus!" Koopa shouted to his driver, chucking a banana peel behind them. Browser nodded, gritting his teeth, and swerved easily, following the flow of the tunnel. They sped through an Item box and into a great inner cavern littered with Items from the last lap. The underground lake sparkled in the dim light.
"I got us a boost!"
"Perfect." The redhead abruptly swerved towards a lone wooden ramp jutting out over the drink. Other karts raced past it; attempting to jump the gap without a star or Mushroom was effectively a joke.
"Whatcha doin' now, idiot?" Kong screeched as he and his nephew flew past.
Bowser plowed ahead, flipping the kart into first gear without breaking. Skills, okay.
Koopa squeezed the toadstool in his hand and it abruptly burst into shimmering gold light.
Their kart rocketed off of the wooden ramp, flew over the lake, and landed smoothly on the other side, snagging a stray Double Item box on the way. Bowser gave a hoarse laugh, burning the sound of the DK's howling into his mind as he and Koopa left them in the dust.
"That was perfect! Now, the bridge—" Bowser inhaled, his chest filling with dusty air, and leaned forward, nearly tilting off the seat. Focus.
"We got followers," his thrower called.
"How close?" He kept his eyes on the road in front of him.
"Up yours, Bow!" Boo yelled, his voice high-pitched and frantic. They were neck and neck. The Piranha-plant took the liberty of shoving Koopa aside, nearly off of his own Kart. Bowser took one hand off the wheel to shove Boo into the rock wall in return.
In one perfect, graceful leap, Bowser's Kart flew over the geysers a millisecond before they blew, leaving King Boo and Petey Piranha to drive into a wall of boiling water.
"Nice," he breathed, putting the car into neutral as Lakitu towed them up to the garage. Koopa somersaulted off the pedestal behind the driver's seat as Bowser leapt onto the ground. They then proceeded to chest-bump in midair Sumo-style.
"Get a room, would ya?" Donkey Kong pulled up on their other side. The kid snarled at them, yellow teeth glinting in the light of the streetlamps. Scrawny kid not yet accustomed to commonly-accepted standards of personal hygiene. Nasty. But, he was DK's nephew…
Bowser pulled a green lighter from his jeans pocket and lit a cigarette. "Oh, it's just you. You washed your kid's hair lately? No, wait, why am I asking…"
"Save it. You get first again?"
"Whatcha think?" Bowser took the opportunity to blow a smoke ring in the ape's face. DK angrily batted at it with one hand.
"Little cocky for first place, dontcha think?"
"Making no sense, ape. First is the best there is."
"And you can quit with the mudslingin' already."
"If you'd quit acting like one…"
He and Koopa had lost back at the Coliseum by a narrow half-second to the albino but tied it back again in the second race. If he could beat Boo at this one, he would win, three out of four.
"It's not that simple," Koopa reminded him for the eightieth time. "You gotta win by a margin of twelve seconds this time around because of your standing from the last race. Even if you got first place and Boo got fifth he could still win by margins."
God damn margins. Bowser kneaded his temples as the garage lights flashed. Time to launch.
Rainbow Road. God-forsaken Rainbow Road.
Whose idea had it been to put in a vertical suction vacuum? Why build the longest racetrack in the Cup in outer space? Who had the time and money to build the thing in the first place, a Lisa Frank acid trip in the middle of nowhere? Now that he thought about it, how could they ever breathe up there? If Rosalina hadn't—
No. No. Don't think about that. Think about now. At this place—ugh.
Lakitu appeared, holding up the starting lights. Bowser's right calf clenched instinctively as the three-second red light flashed.
Of course, the ridiculous construction of the place was coupled with quite a few areas in which he could show off his skills. Like all tracks in the Special Cup, the place was designed for veterans like him. It tested him and it gave him room for growth. Little to no guard rails, treacherous slippery road, and—he would never admit it aloud—pretty.
"…two… one…"A hush fell over the crowd. "GO!" He hit the pedal for a rocket start.
And so the casuals were lain waste. Half of them fell off into oblivion at the first ramp; others lost control on the tight curves and had to be fetched by the poor Lakitu.
Bowser shook his head, having passed a kart that had fallen off the road above him. The god of racing, reduced to fishing wimps out of the void. Ridiculous.
The race went magically. Not only a rocket start but a double-dash, the perfect vector he and Koopa had spent days perfecting; immaculate sliding turns at each curve, impossible aim by the godlike Thrower and his gift of triple shells, and occasionally Bowser's big Spiny… but—
"Four second margin! What now? What now?" Boo gave a sickly grin and strode off.
Bowser kicked the Kart's fender. It was a tie. A bloody draw. A four-second difference in the final race meant their times matched to the ninth decimal place. The hell.
Lakitu popped up—out of nowhere, seemingly—and the garage returned to the city, flying towards the shimmering dark surface below.
"Well, boys, congrats as usual. Spectacular handling of the Dino-Dino Jungle, if I must say, Bowser, particularly for a kart as heavy as yours. The FBR cameras managed to capture your leg-dodging move on video and, if I heard correctly, plan on using it to instruct the defensive driving class downtown. Not too shabby, eh?"
Bowser licked his lips, pleasantly surprised. "Wow. I didn't think that was anything special…"
Lakitu laughed brusquely. "And I'd thought you'd be used to it by now. Oh, and if you don't mind, I'd like a word. Your uncle has given me a message—"
Bowser looked around nervously. Boo was gone, the ape had strutted off, Koopa and the others were talking at the nearby plaza… no one else…
"Um, fine. What is it?"
"The king requests you contact a certain associate of mine as soon as possible. However, he failed to leave me a name, so I couldn't tell you whom exactly; he'll call you, is what he said, but since you don't answer your phone—"
"Fine, fine… I'll check… thanks."
"And don't forget—the summer All-Cup tourney begins in a little over a month. You might want to get a few hours in if you intend to improve from your time today—a rather necessary goal in my opinion if you wish to place. Remember that you and your gang will be facing opponents from all over the world. To put it plainly, your highness, we're past the nationals at this point."
"I hear you. Thanks." They nodded and Bowser strode off towards his Kart.
And it was a sexy Kart. He had designed it off the tapestries in his uncle's house. Also because no one could stop him. And that it gave small children nightmares.
"You ready, man?" It was Koopa. Bowser blinked and nodded, sliding the garage door shut. Time to head back downtown.
Mushroom City, where the eighteen-wheelers stop for no one. The idea brought a smile to Bowser's face as the dark world blurred around them.
"Me? Peachy. I—oh, no, I mean—"
"You thinking about her?"
"Now, yeah." He felt his insides freeze. Christ.
"Dude, snap out of it. Do you wanna get food, or what?"
"Oh, yeah… yeah—where's Wally?"
"With Wario. Luigi and Daisy are there already, had the day off or something…"
"What about the kids? They were just here—"
"Yeah, the Toadster called. They're at some all-night techno rave thing."
"Sounds sounds like Toad all right. So Baby's with him?"
"Baby B'll do whatever Toad does, so…"
"I swear, that guy's got a beanie for every day of the year." It was true. The Toadster never showed up without wearing a hat Bowser had never seen before.
Koopa chuckled. "I believe you. We're lucky to have him, though. Races pretty nice for a high-school kid." They dodged traffic, entering a commercial zone. Brilliantly-lit restaurants and shops abounded.
"For real. We gotta quit shelling the kids during the All-Cup since they'd be adding to our team score. I keep forgetting it's right around the corner."
"Heh. You say so…"
They looked both ways on instinct and leapt across the road, narrowly missing a shroom car. Did the driver wave to them, or shout at them for doing something so dangerous? No. And what was the number one cause of death in Mushroom City? Hit-and-runs. Giggles.
They entered the neon-lit restaurant, where dozens of people chattered noisily in huge red booths."Hi, Daisy. D'you get us a table or what?"
The stocky redhead nodded and gestured for them to sit down, stuffing her cell into the back pocket of her jeans. Daisy grinned before waving her hand in front of the face of the guy sitting across from her.
"Argh, don't do that—" Luigi snapped, blinking.
"You'll bore a hole in the wall."
"They say Hitler was considering not doing the whole holocaust thing, right before it began. He was thinking that maybe it was a bad idea, but someone waved their hand in front of his face and he dismissed the idea. Then six million Jews died."
Koopa blinked. "…and, on that pleasant note, Wally and Wario are here."
"He hates it when you call him tha—Bowser, could you please not do that here? We're in the non-smoking sec—"
Bowser stood up quickly and headed for the door, taking the pack with him. "Fine, fine…"
He reached Wario and Waluigi halfway across the restaurant.
"Leaving so soon?" Wario asked, rubbing one eye. Waluigi looked out the window wistfully.
"Be right back. Just a smoke."
"Don't take forever. We gotta discuss… stuff." He eyed the one Shy Guy within earshot. Spies, the lot of them.
Bowser nodded, and stepped outside as the others headed for the table.
It began to rain; he scooted under an awning, so his feet alone became soaked. Whatever. He needed his nicotine.
What does he want with me?
He usually saw his uncle Saulus… once a year? Twice? More than enough. Well, this would make the third time this year. Obviously something was up. Bowser growled and inhaled the smoke.
Cars veered past, their head and tail lights angelic blurs against the darkness of the city. Cars, trucks, buses, obnoxious little mopeds… Bowser leaned back against the window in silent appreciation of them all. Cars defined life here. Roads, roads, roads, and more roads, and millions of skyscrapers right on the roads, and roadside restaurants and huge parking garages with spiral ramps—speaking of which—
"Well, that'll be easy…" Spiral ramps. Where would the city be without a few illegal races every so often?
"You coming in?" Wally poked his head through the door. Bowser nodded and they returned to the table.
"So, where?" Wario dove into the subject immediately.
"They cleared out the old Grodus industries tower, so the garage there should be empty…" Bowser examined his fingernails. Slightly dusty.
"You swear?" Koopa asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Have I ever let you down before?"
"Twice. And both times you were arrested."
"Just twice! And you weren't arrested, were you? Just me."
Koopa blinked. "True."
"Now that I think about it, how come you didn't get judged?" Luigi asked over the rim of his glass.
"I dunno. The Shy Guy in charge kept telling me I'd be fine if I stayed safe. How does that sound?"
"Like he has a crush on you. If I were him I'd send you to Lakitu's people."
"Lakitu loves me. His group capped a video of us dodging the dinosaur. Gonna use it in their defensive driving classes."
"Hah! That sounds like something the Bureau would do. Oh, good, food."
Another Shy Guy waiter arrived with a tray of their orders. After hours of racing without food, the smell overpowered them and several minutes passed before anyone stopped to speak again.
"Next garage race, we should get catering from here." Daisy grinned, wiggling her eyebrows at them.
Wally actually took pains to speak, after swallowing his food and nearly choking to death. Wario laughed at the poor guy.
"You—catering—why? Do they cater to Boo's group?"
"For the after party. If we tell them that it's organized, then they won't bother us."
Luigi shook his head dismally. "Daisy… they need to believe that it's organized… before they agree to… cater…"
"No one needs to eat this much after a race. It'd be a shock to the system…" Bowser trailed off and bit into the burger again. Mmmmm. Fucking role model.
"Okay, no catering. How about the betting?"
"That's organized," Wario replied.
"But they only cleared the place out a few days ago," Luigi murmured. "You don't think they'll still have security, do you?"
"We can stake it out tomorrow night. If it's clear, then it's clear. If it's not, then we do same as last week. But we gotta spread word."
"Done." Koopa pulled out a palmtop computer and began scribbling on it with a stylus. He often received major technology discounts from his employers at the midtown electronics superstore.
"Never mind then. Gimme your onions." Bowser reached over onto Koopa's plate and nearly reached the steaming vegetables when Koopa slapped his hand away.
"No. Mine. Get laid."
Bowser slumped back into his seat, glum, as Daisy laughed at him. "Hey, can I get an order of onion rings?" he asked a passing Shy Guy. The creature nodded in affirmative and glided into the kitchen. Sweet angel.
"Forget it. So, if not the Grodus, then the Fawfulworks tower garage and driveway. The cops don't go there anymore."
They proceeded to finish their meal. Bowser felt himself drifting off. He felt at peace when with his team. That was that. Everyone else on the planet pretty much sucked on some level. A handful of notable exceptions aside.
Luigi interested Bowser more so than the others. He had not always been with Bowser's gang like the others—excluding Toad, and Daisy. In fact, she had joined along with him.
Why? To spite his family. Bowser held no grand delusion that Luigi had bought into the street racing lifestyle. But the guy had needed an out. Hell, it had probably been Daisy's idea; she was the better driver, the better racer. No way in hell would a handful of official tournaments quench her thirst for speed every season. Plus, Baby adored her. Or vice versa. Or both. But Bowser still sometimes wondered whether Luigi regretted joining.
Daisy sure didn't seem to regret anything. Daisy had Red Bull and PCP for blood. A debate still stood over whether she had actually slept in the past year or not. It literally frightened Bowser at times. Where the hell did all her energy stem from?
No, that was obvious. She leeched it from Luigi like a damn life force vacuum. The guy had trouble staying awake save for when he was racing.
Bowser grinned. Luigi and Daisy were the physical manifestation of Kamek's yin-yang theory—two complete opposites working in perfect harmony. She drove with all the caution and grace of a possessed rhino while Luigi clobbered their opponents with his sets of electric green fireballs.
Wario and Waluigi… they were the more troubled ones of the group in terms of skill. Wally was at least on good terms with everyone. He and Luigi were rivals to an extent, but nothing like Bowser was with the ape or albino… more of a constructive competition whereas Boo was essentially a pain-in-the-ass white boy with a penchant for banter and a set of Ds.
In any case, Wario could drive better than he could throw, thereby locking him in the drivers' seat for all eternity while Wally threw bombs at people from the throwers' pedestal. Sixth was typically a good placing for them, Bowser decided, particularly for the All-Cup where placing at top three was a given rarity for any particular kart. Not for him, of course, but fine if all you wanted was the money…and indeed they were only in it for the cash. In that regard, they were skilled drivers indeed.
Money. To be honest, it was the main reason that Wally and Wario hung around. They spent more time arranging bets than practicing, and consequently spent less time racing as they were unlikely to place, and the cycle continued.
Not him. Bowser and Koopa went all the way. First place or nothing. Though he would be plenty happy taking fifth or six provided he had a chance to kick Boo's albino ass at some point. Lord knows he was equipped.
If there was one thing he liked about himself more than anything else, it was the shells. The gorgeous, colossal, spiked, green monsters of shells that blew Karts to pieces and cleared his path of stray Items and knocked entire Mac trucks out of his way and—
"You done thinking yet?"
Bowser snapped to attention; Koopa had spoken.
"Hey, just 'cause it takes you ten years to produce a thought doesn't mean I—"
"Psh. Anyways, how much you got on you? We're five coins short—"
"Nah, I got it." Bowser dumped their pile of cash back on the table and handed his debit card to the waiter, yet another Shy Guy with a black apron.
"Dude, where d'you get those things?"
"My dad's brother. Same as everything else you ask me about." He felt a sinking sensation at the pit of his stomach every time it was brought up. One day he'd snap the damn thing in half.
"I keep forgetting you have a fuckin' sponsor. No fair."
"The rich uncles, they make the world go round," Wario remarked. Bowser raised an eyebrow, wondering not the first time how much Wario knew.
"Thank you sir, and good evening."
"Take it easy, man." They all stood up and walked out onto the street.
"So… day off tomorrow… who wants to scope?"
"I can't. Paratroopa said she'd call back tomorrow."
Bowser froze, his lighter fizzing out half an inch away from the cigarette in his mouth. "She's making a decision?"
Koopa nodded. "Don't get your hopes up. Her parents want her to get a decent education."
"She got accepted into the city university, right?"
"Your girlfriend's calling tomorrow?" Wally murmured.
"Where have you been?" Daisy asked. He shook his head and tuned back into his mp3 player.
"So you and Bowser should stay together. Well… Luigi and I can scope the Grodus towers out. We're the quietist."
"Maybe if they shoved you in a soundproof room. And no, scoping and making out are not synonymous." Bowser puffed angrily on the cigarette.
"You've got the Bloom Coach to buff," Luigi told Daisy. "Wally and I can go and then you can switch off with him at eleven. Deal?"
"You're gonna do it the whole time?"
"We get there at five, check the place for cops, read a magazine, and scram if they show up, thereby getting the data for the race. If they don't show up, then we do the same thing tomorrow. If they don't show up then, then we move the race there. For God's sake, they've got a spiral ramp…"
Daisy sighed, setting an alarm on her phone. "Fine. I show up at eleven unless you call. Wally! You paying attention?"
Wally closed his eyes. "I head up there at five with Louie and leave at eleven unless there's trouble. Jesus."
Bowser wrapped a lock of red hair around his finger. "Deal. I may or may not have to talk to Koopa's girl. Or the parents. Or both. But it'd be great if we could get more people on our team."
"You should be a patron, like your uncle." Wario yawned. Okay, maybe he was just good at guessing.
"Whatever. I got stuff to do. Meet at one tomorrow?"
"Sure. Where?" Koopa asked.
"Underpass. Even if it rains… no, wait, then we'll go to your house. Wario's gotta talk to the… um… benefactors, I'm guessing, so we'll see ya later, right?"
Wario nodded. "Day after tomorrow. Night." He strode off towards the south end. Luigi and Daisy waved and followed him. They all kept their cars in the same garage.
"Are you gonna be online? I got nothing to do all night," Koopa said, sounding appropriately bored.
"Can't you let him crash at your place?" Wally asked quietly. Bowser shook his head.
"Sorry. No can do."
Koopa shrugged. "Whatever. Are you gonna be online or not?"
"Maybe… if I'm not after eleven then I won't be all night."
"Fine. See ya, Wally." They turned in opposite directions. Waluigi and Wario lived close to downtown within walking distance.
"Night." Bowser nodded quickly to Koopa, who swung his leg over his yellow Vespa and zoomed off. He himself climbed into his black pickup and took F-10 west.
Far west. City-outskirts west. Outside of Greater Mushroom City jurisdiction west. Past the king's privately-owned All-Cup regulation size race course. Executive district, with its government-classed custom-built mansions built on craggy ledges overlooking what had once been the beautiful City Valley, a quarry of red marble now empty and dark, no thanks to the city's constant starless night. Bowser's castle loomed just ahead, a hulking silhouette against the red glow of the occasional effusive eruption from the ground under his property.
Blessed be the child never in want of a steady lava flow, eh?
Shut up, Kamek.
He pulled into the underground garage, parked, and headed upstairs. This place… too empty. Noise echoed far too much off of the stone walls, a reminder—no. No.
His phone lay under a heap of empty cigarette packets on the floor of his bedroom. After weighing his mood, Bowser decided the suspense of all this overpowered his distaste for looking at his phone. He sighed and dug the thing out, bracing himself.
King Giga-Bowser had called.
The monarch had called twice. No…one more down his call log… three times.
Something was definitely up. An involuntary shudder ran through his body, reminding him.
Thanks for your patience. As always, reviews are appreciated. I literally wrote these first few chapters over five years ago so they're pretty godawful lol.