Two faces peered out of the thick, thorny umbrage carefully. They scrutinized the dark, murky fortress before them and analyzed the situation.
"Okay," began Mario, his tone of voice slightly hinting impatience. "The Princess has been kidnapped again."
"No surprise there," Luigi added.
"…And we need to rescue her."
"No problem there! Oh…"
"So what are we waiting for?"
Luigi looked down, disappointed. "I forgot my hat."
"Forget it Weege. You don't need a hat to save Peach."
"Yeah I do," he argued fervently. "It's my lucky cap."
Mario waved the subject off. "It doesn't matter. Come on, you hatless freak, let's get a move on."
The two plumbers crept stealthily towards the castle gates, hoping their mission would go as smoothly as all the others.
"Let me go, you big, ugly brute!" Peach kicked and shouted as she was carried over Bower's shoulder.
"No use fighting Princess. You know you love me."
"Ugh, someone gag me, please."
Bowser stopped walking. "You mean it?"
Peach gawked in disgust. "Ewe! NO!"
The Koopa King shrugged and continued walking down the hall to the dungeon. "Just checking."
Depositing the Princess on the floor, he stepped back and grinned smugly.
"All you have to do is say the magic word Peach, and you can have your freedom."
"Tsk, yeah…freedom from these ropes! Find some other broad to kidnap. There's no way I'm marrying you."
Bowser sneered at her and crossed to the exit. "Why don't you think about it?"
"In your dreams!" she shouted as the thick, wooden door to the prison slammed loudly. Sighing dejectedly, Peach shifted her weight to make herself more comfortable in the barely lit cellar. She jumped at the sound of immediate growling, snarling, maybe even barking. Swallowing, she wondered just what was in the dungeon with her when she was distracted by another noise; a nearby pipe's lid, which had been nailed shut, came crashing off, and out popped the plumbers. Peach, of course, was ecstatic.
"Oh, Mario! And…......who are you?"
Casting a confused glance around him, Luigi shrugged. "Luigi. Who else would I be?"
"…oh yeah! Didn't recognize you without the hat."
The young man frowned at his brother who had already started to loosen the ropes from Peach.
"I'm so glad you two are here!" she breathed. "I have a bad feeling that we're not alone."
At this point, the door slammed open again and Bowser stormed in.
"Well, not anymore at least," grumbled Mario.
Bowser roared. "What's this? Mario? He turned to the younger plumber with an odd look on his face. "Who the heck are you?!"
Exhaling heavily, Luigi threw his hands up in the air. "I'm Luigi! Geez…"
"Oh…right! By the way, you're missing your hat. Well, Marios, this is a nice surprise."
"No kidding. Considering we meet you about every other week…"
"That's beside my point. I'll let you have the Princess…"
"Really?" the duo exclaimed in unison.
"…if you can get past my latest form of defense."
"And that would be?" asked Mario, unfazed.
"You'll see." Nothing happened for a second or two, until they noticed the low growling. Cautiously, Mario crept closer to the sound which came from behind a steel barred gate.
"Well, I hear it," Luigi commented just before the thing coughed and a big pile of spit flew into his brother's face.
"……I feel it," Mario grumbled, wiping it off with his sleeve disgustedly. Peach looked over his shoulder as two ugly yellow-orange eyes pierced the dark cage.
"Now I see it!" she cried out, gulping.
"Stand back!" Mario shouted as the gate lifted. More angry yellow eyes joined the first pair, and the plumbers had a feeling these creatures didn't come in peace. A troop of Koopas emerged from the cage, but these were no ordinary overgrown reptiles. These turtles were ravenous, wild, and far more threatening. Mario, Luigi and Peach were quite anxious as they were surrounded in what was slowly becoming a ring of wild Koopas.
"I don't think we're in Kansas anymore," Mario mumbled.
"I don't think Bowser is sane anymore! What did you do to them?" cried Luigi, staring nervously at the angry, red-shelled animals.
"That's none of your concern. Right now you should be running for your lives."
"Their like…rabid dogs," noticed Mario, swallowing hard.
Luigi looked at him from the corners of his eyes. "Well, this wasn't part of the plan. What now, genius?"
Mario just shrugged helplessly, backed against his brother, the two of them slowly turning, Peach helplessly wringing her hands next to them. The circle of maddened turtles sneered, baring their teeth at the plumbers.
"Use your plungers!" Peach shouted at them, trying her best to stay out of reach.
"Why is she always the smart one?" Luigi wondered aloud, unsheathing his long wooden weapon alongside Mario. With a unison shout, they attacked. Every Koopa in their reach was whacked away or whacked unconscious. Bowser groaned, instantly knowing he was losing the battle.
Luigi almost laughed as he fought, swinging his plunger left and right. "One little, two little, three little Koopas…" SMACK, BAM. "Four little five little--" CRUNCH.
"Hey!" he exclaimed, tugging on his end of the plunger, the other end clenched between a Koopa's fearsome teeth. "Give it back!" They played tug of war until it snapped in half with a loud crack. Luigi stared at the broken end sadly.
"Don't tell me…" WHAM "…that was your lucky plunger, grunted Mario, still beating off the beasts. Luigi frowned angrily.
"No, but it was my favorite--agh! Get off!" He tried to shake himself free from a Koopa that had latched onto his lower arm, it's sharp teeth biting down hard. "Owe! Mario!"
At the same time, Peach screamed as a Koopa charged her way. Leaping over two more of the monsters, Mario batted it away swiftly before it had a chance to get close. The Princess sighed, relieved.
"Whoa!" The Koopa tugged on Luigi's arm, dragging him down. He fell to the ground with a grunt, his eyes growing wide as the circle of what few monsters remained grew tighter around him. "Uh…Mario?
"Got ya!" His brother swatted the beasts away, and the hungry Koopa relented, releasing Luigi's arm and retreating. Mario took his hand, grabbing the Princess's as well, and they ran to their freedom.
"Adios Bowserino!" called Luigi before he pushed Peach down the pipe and slid in himself.
"Ciao!" shouted Mario gleefully.
Bowser grumbled to himself. "I should never cut deals with plumbers."
"You should have been more careful," Mario admonished as the nurse cleaned and bandaged his brother.
"I'd like to see you try and fight off some crazy Koopas, without your lucky hat and with only half your favorite plunger. Owe!" he yelped. "That stings."
"Be a big boy, and you'll get a lolly," teased the nurse. Luigi leered at Mario. "Looks like I've got a mother to pamper me--yeowch!"
"Will you be all right Luigi?" asked Peach worriedly.
"Oh yeah," he boasted, flexing his bandaged arm. I'm as strong as an ox! Oooh…" He grunted painfully.
"And twice as stupid," mumbled Mario.
"Hey! I resent that!"
"Well maybe it would teach you to be more careful!" Mario retorted before storming from the room.
"Sheesh, what's eating him?" Luigi muttered under his breath, clearly hurt.
"He…he only cares for you, Luigi," Peach began gently.
"Yeah, well, he has a funny way of showing it." The younger plumber scowled at the back of the door sadly.
Silent, angry and hurtful stares were exchanged some nights later at supper. The plumbers ate their meals glumly, still apparently mad with each other, while Peach nearly went insane after trying for days to reconcile them.
Finally, Mario cleared his throat. "Um, how is your arm doing?"
Luigi grew strangely defensive and nervous about this subject, and he drew in his arms, thankful for his long sleeved green shirt. "It's fine," he answered curtly.
"Come on, Weegy. I want to know."
"I said it's fine, isn't that good enough?"
"Mario opened his mouth to shoot some sharp reply, but shut it quickly and decided against it. He really didn't want to start a war, but Luigi was acting funny.
More moments of silence passed and the Princess broke it suddenly by slamming her spoon onto the table loudly.
"Would you two just please kiss and make up?" she cried.
Luigi glanced at her, then back at his brother.
"Oh yeah, that's love," replied Peach sarcastically. "Of you two can't be civil, then--"
"Forget it, Princess. I'll save you the trouble." With those words, Luigi left the table just after giving his brother a cold stare.
"My, he's moody this week," stated Mario as if noticing polished floors.
Peach threw up her hands in exasperation. "He's your brother, not mine. That makes him your problem."
Mario watched his brother stalk up the stairs to his room, wishing he could get to the bottom of Luigi's troubles without starting a riot.
Luigi shut his door and locked it hurriedly, leaning his back against it. Closing his eyes, he wearily slid down along the massive plank of wood until he sat on the floor, knees drawn up to his chest. Sighing deeply, he opened his eyes, ridden with worry. In the safety of his own palace room, he slowly rolled up his sleeve. Carefully peeling back a corner of the white bandage, his face went pale.
The skin under the white cotton pad was scaly, the lightest shade of green imaginable. His face marred with a frown, he closed his eyes and pulled his sleeve back down, letting his head bang back against the door.
You hate him, don't you? Luigi more deeply at the strange voice.
No! I don't hate Mario! He's….just…
Sometimes you just want to kill him.
Come on, don't tell me you never think that way. Remember when he threw you in the pool to try and "teach" you swimming when you were a kid?
Yeah, I do. But that's no reason to kill him!
…And when he put peanuts in your trail mix? You were allergic to peanuts.
It…it was an honest mistake.
No it wasn't. He was trying to kill you.
No what? Don't you sometimes wish he were dead?
Yes you do. You're thinking it right now.
It would be so easy Luigi. To kill Mario. KILL MARIO.
Luigi opened his eyes and put his hands over his ears, trying to shut out the voice.
Luigi shut his eyes again, tightly this time. Soon, thought, he felt a strange exhaustion overtake him, his body relaxing slowly. When he opened his eyes again, they were glazed over, and he stared straight ahead, slowly losing control. KILL MARIO.
"Kill Mario," he whispered, blinking lethargically.