EDIT from 5/18/20: Made some edits and cut down the flashback scene.

Chapter 4: In Which a Plan is Concocted

It was late at night. Mr. L sat in the library of the castle, concentrating on the archaic newspaper. HERO SAVES WOMAN FROM CRAZY APE! There was a picture of Mario with his arm wrapped around a pretty brunette in a red dress and makeup.

The article went on to talk about Mario and his girlfriend at the time, Pauline James. Mario was an intern at a local construction site when Donkey Kong, a popular ape at the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn, New York, broke out of his cage and kidnapped Pauline. Mario, who was locking up, saw this and came to the rescue. The man in red was able to save his girlfriend before she got hurt.

"Hmm...Well, I have to give you props for bravery," Mr. L muttered. "I'm not sure I'd be able to go against a giant ape." He glanced at the picture of Donkey Kong at the bottom, who wore a smile and a red tie with the initials DK on it. It was hard to believe such a friendly looking creature could be so aggressive.

The man in green skimmed through the rest of the newspaper. This came from a different dimension, where a country called America existed. Mr. L was not at all surprised when he heard of this place. In fact, something deep inside of him expected it.

There wasn't much else on Mario. He folded that paper up and put it back into the folder where he found it. Nastasia had folders filled with research materials about the three heroes from the prophecy. Strangely enough, she didn't have anything for that fourth hero. Not that it mattered anyway.

He grabbed another article from Mario's folder, pulled it out, then unfolded it and began to skim. This one came from the Mushroom Kingdom. The headline was as straight forward as the previous one: KING BOWSER DEFEATED! MARIO BROTHERS SAVE THE DAY AGAIN! He was about to read the story when a picture caught his eye. Mario and another man were posing for the camera with the princess.

The other man looked exactly like Mr. L.

The Green Thunder rubbed his eyes. The picture looked the same. He stared at the photo, capturing every detail. His doppelganger had the same face as him, the only difference being his blue eyes. He wore a green shirt and blue overalls along with a green cap with an L on the front. A strange sensation came over him as he read the caption at the bottom of the photo. Mario Mario (right) and his brother Luigi (left) with our beloved Princess Peach (center).

"Luigi," Mr. L repeated. The name felt foreign on his tongue, yet familiar. Luigi was taller and skinnier than Mario, but the two brothers had an amazing resemblance. They had to have been twins. Fraternal twins, maybe, but still twins nonetheless. But if Luigi was Mario's brother...then why did he have the same face as Mr. L?

He thought about it until his head started hurting. He set the article down and rubbed his temples. "I'm thinking about this too hard. There's enough people in the multi-verse to look like me..."

"Mr. L?" Someone said. The man in green turned and noticed Nastasia in the doorway. "What are you doing up? It's past everyone's bedtime."

He stood. "Nothing! I just couldn't sleep is all. I thought I'd read for a bit."

She looked in the direction of the table and frowned. "About the hero again?"

Mr. L stared at the floor, embarrassed. "How'd you know?"

"Because you've been obsessing over him ever since you failed your mission the other day."

He frowned and crossed his arms. "It was a scouting mission! I just don't get why I failed though. I'm supposed to be more powerful than him! The Dark Prognosticus says so!"

"Well...it is at least 1,500 years old. They could've gotten some things wrong. Anyway, you need to get to bed."

He huffed and muttered under his breath, "Why do you get to stay up?"

"I'm doing research for the Count. Now get some sleep. Don't let me catch you staying up again."

Mr. L sighed and walked past her. "Good night, I guess."

"Good night, L."

Nastasia watched Mr. L leave the room. She sighed. Apparently, he thought that she didn't notice how he stayed up late at night. Honestly, she needed to talk with their newest minion about that. She would do it in the morning, when he was awake enough to listen. The assistant went to the table and began to clear it off. She picked up one newspaper and her eyes grew wide. It was a picture of two of the heroes with Mr. L.

No, not Mr. L. It was Luigi.

Nastasia took a deep breath. She had only met Mr. L's true self twice, both encounters brief. The first time, he tried to stop Bowser and Peach's wedding and save the princess, but all he did was enrage the Chaos Heart and scatter everyone about the castle. The second time, Nastasia knew that he had to be the man in green mentioned in the Dark Prognosticus.

She had to brainwash him. However, as Mario's twin, he couldn't get the standard procedure that ordinary minions received. She had no choice but to wipe his memories and release his inner ambitions, resulting in a person who acted completely different from his true self.

However, she still saw bits of Luigi in Mr. L. She saw him in his complete focus to the task at hand. She saw him in his eagerness to help. She even saw it in the way he hugged her when she told him he was going on an actual mission for the first time.

Now, looking at the newspaper, Nastasia knew she should not have let Mr. L see that. "Oh well. He's more likely to dismiss it as some kind of coincidence than realize the truth." Her grip on the paper tightened. "Although...I shouldn't take risks like that."

Nastasia left the room with the paper. She would burn it and flush the ashes down the toilet. Then, in the morning, she would order the Count's lower class minions to re-examine their research materials.

"I'm gonna kill you!"

The boy in green pounced on his brother. The other boy glared and tried to shove him off, but the younger one was stubborn. The green one punched his brother in the face. The red one punched right back.

Their mother's voice. "Mario?" A burst of static. "What is going on!?" She ran down the back steps. "Both of you, stop it!"

The boy in green felt someone pull him off of his brother. He groaned and struggled in his mother's grip, trying to grab his brother. "I said stop...!" Another burst of static. At the sound of his name, the boy in green grew still and his mother put him down. The boy in green pouted and crossed his arms. By this time, Mario was standing, but he refused to look at his brother.

The woman looked back and forth between her sons. The two boys were joined at the hip and hardly ever fought, especially like this. "What is wrong with you two?"

"It's his fault!" The boy in green said. "I wouldn't have done it if he hadn't been so dumb!"

"What did he do?"

"He hit me!" Mario interrupted. "He punched me in the face!"

"Only because you're such a stupid head!"

"I'm only listening to one of you right now!" The boys grew quiet at that. Their mama sure was scary when she was cross.

After that, the boys explained the situation. The boy in green liked a girl at school, but he was too nervous to say anything, so the boy in red told the girl for him. The girl made fun of the boy in green, insisting she didn't date cowards, then said she would date Mario if he was just trying to ask her. Mama told Mario to keep that kind of information to himself unless his brother told him otherwise and then demanded that the boy in green not hit his brother. Then she did the most evil thing that a mother could do: she made them both apologize and shake hands or no dessert for a week.

Once they shook hands, Mama nodded. "There. Now you two are going to be friends again!" She sighed. "Honestly, you two are brothers! You shouldn't fight. One day, you'll be all each other has."

"Brothers...Shouldn't fight..."

Someone started shaking him. "L!" A girly voice cried. He groaned and turned over. "L, wake up! It's almost noon!"

His eyes opened. Mr. L sat up. "What? Noon, already?"

Mimi was standing by his bedside, wearing a hot pink tank top and a blue skirt. "Yep. Come on. Breakfast."

Mr. L sighed before standing and stretching. "Okay, I'm up. Happy?"

"The rest of us have been up for hours. I told you you shouldn't stay up past Jaydes' hour. But did you listen? Nooooo!"

"Mind your own business, Arachne."

Mimi smiled at the sound of her nickname. "What? Am I such a bad friend for caring?"

"No. It's just annoying sometimes. What are we having?"

"Pancakes and ham."

Mr. L grinned. "Sounds good. Just give me time to get dressed."

Mimi nodded and left the room. Mr. L went to his closet and decided to wear something casual. He put on a green flannel shirt with black stripes and black pants. He also grabbed his mask, which he couldn't leave without. He ran a brush through his hair and checked himself in his mirror. Mr. L smiled at his reflection. He was handsome as usual.

When he left his room, Mimi was waiting for him. The two walked downstairs to the dining room, an elegant room with blue walls and a table. The Count sat at the head of the table in a large velvet chair with red cushions. The other chairs were smaller and didn't have cushions. Nastasia sat to his right and O'Chunks sat next to her. Dimentio sat next to the Count, on the latter's left hand side.

Mimi sat in her chair next to O'Chunks. "I got him up. Finally."

"Oh, good, says Count Bleck! We were all beginning to think that our dear Mr. L was nocturnal."

Mimi laughed for way too long at that. Wiping tears from her eyes, she said, "Oh, Count. You're so funny!"

Mr. L rolled his eyes. Mimi had a huge crush on their Count. She said she was waiting for the right moment to tell him, but everyone knew, including the Count himself. Mr. L sat in his spot next to Dimentio. As soon as he sat down, a koopa approached the table with a plate of pancakes and placed it in front of him.

The man in green smiled and turned back to face the koopa. "Thanks."

Red, lifeless eyes staring back at him. "You're welcome, man in green."

Mr. L frowned and turned away. No doubt that koopa was under strong hypnosis.

"So, how was your sleep, Mr. L?" The Count asked.

"Good," He muttered. He took his knife and spread butter over the pancakes. Next he took the syrup and poured it over his breakfast.

"Any interesting dreams?" Nastasia added.

He was about to say no, then remembered his most recent dream. "Actually, I had an interesting one last night."

"Is that so, asked the Count? Well, what happened in it?"

Mr. L thought hard, trying to remember every detail. "Well, I was a child in this dream. Another boy was with me too. We were fighting over something stupid. This might sound crazy, but...I think we were brothers."

Nastasia froze. "Brothers?"

"Uh-huh." He took a pancake and cut it into halves. Then he cut those halves into fourths. He ate one of the pieces of the pancake, soft and sweet.

Count Bleck and Nastasia exchanged glances. Mr. L might have imagined it, but he thought he heard Dimentio chuckling. The Count asked, "Do you remember anything about this boy?"

"Not much. I remember he liked the color red and he was a bit short, but that's it. See, when I'm dreaming, I remember his face as clear as day. But when I wake up, my memory gets foggy. Right now, I can't even remember his name."

Nastasia glanced at Count Bleck again. He shook his head and went back to eating. Nastasia took a deep breath and began to cut her hunk of ham into smaller, bit-sized pieces. "It was probably a friend of yours. You don't know if he was your brother."

"But this woman said that we shouldn't fight because we're brothers! I know we were related. I just..." Mr. L stopped.

O'Chunks had a pile of food on his plate. Five pancakes. A mess of scrambled eggs on top. Pieces of ham, bacon, and sausage. He was stuffing himself with food. Mr. L couldn't help but stare. The Scotsman noticed this and frowned. "What?" He asked with his mouth full.

"That's a lot of food."

O'Chunks swallowed hard. He spoke with his index finger out. "Warrior rule number one: never fight on an empty stomach! 'Tis madness!"

Mr. L looked to Mimi and Dimentio. The magician spoke up. "O'Chunks is facing the hero again today."

"And this time, failing isn't an option," Nastasia added. She glanced at the Scotsman. "Is that clear, O'Chunks?"

O'Chunks gulped. "Yes, lass. Clear as a bell!"

Mr. L grinned. "Well, when you see him, tell him a storm's coming. The Green Thunder never forgets!"

He hesitated. "I don't know. I don't take bein' called a junior lightly."

"Oh, come on. I was just teasing." He looked to everyone else. "Right? I was just teasing?"

Mimi frowned and crossed her arms. "I don't know. You sounded pretty serious."

"What!? Who's side are you on, anyway!?"

Dimentio chuckled. "I knew you were joking, Mr. L."

"See? Mr. Houdini over here gets it!"

O'Chunks furrowed his brows. "Mr. Who?"

The man in green shrugged. "I don't know. I think that's the name of some magician."

The Scotsman sighed. "Well...I'll think 'bout it. How's that?"

"Good enough for me." Mr. L started to cut the second pancake into pieces. "And be sure to go easy on him, okay?"

O'Chunks frowned. "Why do I need teh go easy on 'im?"

Mr. L stopped. Everyone was staring at him. Why did I say that? He had to recover fast. He smirked and feigned confidence. "I mean, you can easily crush him like the bug that he is. We all can. But at least make him think he has a shot, you know? That makes the fight more interesting."

O'Chunks hesitated. "Uh...Alright, lad. Whatever yeh say."

Thankfully, the rest of breakfast went on as normal. After everyone was done, the brainwashed servants cleaned up the dining room. Mr. L felt some guilt over that, but turned away and began heading towards the garage. Before he could leave, however, Dimentio was at his side again. "Mr. L?"

The man in green jumped. "Would you stop startling me like that? Per l'amor di Dio..."

"You speak good Italian. Are you fluent?"

Mr. L nodded. "Very fluent. Need something?"

"Yes, actually. I need to grab a few extra food items for the Count, but I detest shopping all by myself. Do you mind coming with me?"

He furrowed his brows. "Huh? Like...grocery shopping? Don't the Count's lower class minions already do that?"

"It's just a few extra items. So, what do you say?"

The mechanic looked in the direction of the garage. "I don't know. I really need to work on repairing Brobot."

"Didn't you mention last night you still need to get the new parts?"

"Well, yeah, but I gotta work on the blueprints!"

"Oh, come on," Dimentio said. "You can take a break, can't you? Besides, you need a more advanced Robotics guide, right?"

Mr. L stepped back. "How did you know that?"

"I know everything. So, will you come with me?"

The man in green sighed. "Okay, fine. But only so I can get that better guide!"

"Marvelous. Let's go."

Dimentio turned towards the door, but Mr. L grabbed his arm. "Wait! I still need to get my shoes on!"

The magician snapped his fingers and a pair of gray boots appeared at Mr. L's feet. The man in green sighed and put them on. Dimentio wrote on the whiteboard on the fridge that they would be out. After both men were ready, the two exited the castle. After that, they took a walk to the village alongside the hill.

The men talked on their way to the village. They were an odd pair, but they worked well together. Just as long as Dimentio didn't ask too many questions, Mr. L liked him okay. He was always there to listen and usually took Mr. L's side when he was arguing with the others. Plus, his magic and eloquent way of storytelling made him amusing.

When they arrived at the village, they were met with worn down buildings and a pretty purple sky above them. People chatting and shopping in the stores. Merchants out, showing off their charisma and fine jewelry.

"Only 300 coins and this beautiful gold necklace could be yours!"

"450 coins for a dazzling sapphire bracelet!"

"90 rubees for a polished diamond ring! Authentic too!"

Dimentio chuckled as they passed the diamond seller. "I bet Mimi is just waiting for the Count to propose, diamond ring and all. What do you think, L?" He waited, but got no response. The magician turned to his friend. Mr. L was staring towards the distance. Dimentio tapped his shoulder. "Mr. L?"

The man in green flinched. "Sorry. What were you saying?"

Dimentio raised an eyebrow. "What are you staring at?"

Mr. L pointed. "Those people over there."

He looked in the direction that Mr. L was pointing and noticed a crowd of people talking to each other. Although they varied in social class, all of them had forlorn looks on their faces; one girl was hugging her father and crying into his chest. "What about them?"

"They're humans. Like me. I thought we were an endangered species around here."

"Oh. Well, this village has had a flood of refugees. You see, the Void has already swallowed some worlds."

Mr. L's eyes widened, speaking with worry. "What!? But the end's not here yet! Not even close!"

"It comes earlier for some places than others."

"Oh...But we still have time, don't we?"

"Of course we do, L. Don't worry. Come on." Dimentio floated on ahead, gesturing for Mr. L to follow. "Someone has to take care of these items."

"Right. Of course!" Mr. L caught up with Dimentio. "You got the list, don't you?"

Dimentio nodded. He pulled it out of one of his pockets. "I sure do. Let's see here..."

He began reading off the items they needed. The mechanic only half-listened. The Void had already erased whole worlds. Those people barely got out with their lives. Not only that, but who knows how many more innocent people weren't so lucky? How many lost their lives...because of them? Mr. L shook his head. It's for the good of everyone. This way is better. I just have to believe in the Count's word.

The Green Thunder grabbed a small black crate at the front of the store. He followed Dimentio while the magician chatted away. He nodded and made short comments here and there. By the time they were waiting in line for the bagger, Dimentio said, "Alright, L. What's wrong?"


"You know what. You've been acting off lately, like a young adolescent who suffers from melancholy, but won't tell their parents. Is this about the people outside?"

Mr. L sighed. "Alright, you got me. I just can't help but feel sorry for them, you know? I mean, they lost everything. I wish there was some way we could help..."

"Don't worry. Count Bleck will help them when this world ends. You'll just have to wait and see."

The mechanic nodded. "Okay."

Soon, they were second in line. The only problem was that a large family was in front of them and the children persuaded their parents to buy a lot of sweets along with several other food items. Mr. L groaned. "Oh, Grambi! What couple decides to have seven brats!?"

"Now, now, L. We just need to wait patiently."

"I've been patient!" He shouted, louder than intended. Mr. L felt pairs of eyes on him, but didn't care.

"I can help whoever's next in line," A voice said.

The man in green let out a sigh of relief. "Finally! We've been waiting here for...for..."

The other man had tan skin, thick black hair, and a square face with prominent checkbones and large chocolate brown eyes. The best part was that he looked in his late twenties or early thirties, same as Mr. L. The cashier smiled at them. Mr. L grinned and shoved past Dimentio. "Hey there, handsome. The name's Mr. L. It's a pleasure to meet you..." He read his name tag. "Tristan."

The cashier blushed. "Uh...the pleasure's all mine." He cleared his throat. "How are you doing today?"

"Better now that you're here."

Dimentio furrowed his brows, looking back and forth between his friend and the cashier. Was Mr. L flirting...with another man?

"So, where are you from?" Mr. L continued. Please don't tell me your world was just destroyed.

Tristan frowned. "I actually come from Sarasaland. Have you ever heard of it?"

The man in green stroked his chin. "Hmm. It rings a bell, but I don't think I've ever been there."

"The taxes there have been insane lately. Plus, the Void is huge."

Mr. L frowned. "I wouldn't worry too much about it. It's small here. We have plenty of time."

There was a moment of silence. Tristan kept ringing their items up while Mr. L turned to look at the window. Dimentio looked in the same direction. The Void had grown considerably since the Green Thunder took on his first mission. Mr. L chewed his lip, a nervous habit he picked up recently.

"What about you? Where are you from originally?" Tristan asked.

Mr. L opened his mouth, then closed it. He didn't have a solid answer for that question. Crap. What am I supposed to say? 'I don't remember?' He would think I'm nuts! He scanned his mind for answers when he remembered the newspaper he read the night before. "Brooklyn."

Tristan furrowed his brows. "Brooklyn?"

"New York. America."

"Never heard of it."

"It's in a different dimension."

Tristan's eyes widened. "Does the Void really reach out that far?"

Mr. L shook his head. "I came here out of my own free will. I had no idea any worlds were in danger." He decided to change the subject before Tristan prompted him any further. "So, any plans for this weekend?"

"Um...I'm flattered, but sorry. I'm straight."

He frowned. "Really? That's a shame."

Just then, Tristan finished ringing them up. "Your total is 150 coins."

Dimentio came forward and laid some coins along with rubees on the counter. "Here you are. I hope that much will suffice."

Tristan's eyes widened. "Whoa! You have rubees?"

"One of our roommates collects rubees. Can't live without them. I believe a rubbee is 10 coins, if you need the conversion."

The cashier grinned and put some of the money in the register. "This much should suffice. You have a couple more rubbees than you need though..."

"Keep the change," Mr. L said.

Tristan smiled. "Thank you. Have a good day!"



The two exited the store with shopping bags. Mr. L was still smiling, cheeks a bright shade of pink. "You know, it's too bad that guy is straight. He was really cute."

Dimentio stared. "You're attracted to men?"

The Green Thunder turned away. "Uh...Yeah."

"Why haven't you ever mentioned this?"

"You don't go walking around...er, floating around...advertising the fact you like girls, do you?"

"So, what you're telling me is...you're a homosexual?"

Mr. L's eyes widened. He jerked to Dimentio. "I never said that!"

Dimentio grinned. "Oh, Mr. L." He patted his head as if he was a small child. "There's nothing wrong with being gay. I don't mind. In fact, I applaud you for being so open about your sexuality."

"I-I'm not gay! I'm..." He stared at the ground. "I'm bisexual, okay?"

"Oh. So you're attracted to both men and women."

"Yeah. Is that..." Mr. L looked at his friend. "Is that wrong?"

The magician blinked a few times. There was a strange innocence in his eyes. He saw that kind of look on Mimi often, usually when she wanted something from him, but not on someone like Mr. L. Dimentio shook his head. "No, not at all. I don't mind your preferences."

Mr. L messed with the hem of his shirt. "I actually prefer women, but I wouldn't mind dating a guy if they were interested. Or really good looking like Tristan."

"I see." Dimentio looked across the street and pointed. "Isn't that the store where you found that first manual?

The mechanic turned and nodded. "That's the one. I'll just head in there real quick. You want to come with?"

"You go ahead. I'll wait here."

"Okay. How about we meet back up out here?"

"Sounds good to me. Please return quickly, like an office worker returning form-"

Mr. L rolled his eyes before setting his bags down and walking away. "Yeah, yeah. I'll make it quick."

Dimentio watched his friend go inside the store. He stroked his chin, then sat on a nearby bench. If the Dark Prognosticus was correct, the heroes would fail at protecting another world. After that, each of them would go to either the Underwhere or Overthere based on their sins. If Dimentio's plan worked out the way he wanted, then Mr. L would have to go with them.

Still, the Dark Prognosticus named the man in green as the ideal host for the Chaos Heart. He would need his power if he ever wanted to overthrow the Count. But how would Dimentio convince Mr. L to betray him? Well...he was stubborn, but smarter than the others. Maybe if Dimentio explained his intentions, then Mr. L would join him.

No, he wouldn't. Thanks to Nastasia, Mr. L believed that Count Bleck was his master. Dimentio couldn't just expect him to betray the Count willingly. Right now, he had two options. He heard rumors about an item from another dimension that could give its owner control of another person's mind. This item was called the floro sprout. It was in the same dimension the heroes would end up next coincidentally. However, Dimentio didn't even know if the floro sprout would work.

The second option would be harder. He would have to get closer to Mr. L. That would mean convincing him to put down the screwdrivers and wrenches and spend some time with him. How in the world would he do that? The magician thought it over before coming up with an idea. A far-fetched one, but it might just work.

Just then, Mr. L came outside, empty-handed. Dimentio floated over to him. "That was fast. Where's the advanced guide you were talking about?"

Mr. L sighed. "I popped in there and asked an employee about it, but apparently, they only sell beginner's manuals there. And I don't know of any other place in this village that sells these manuals. I guess I'm just gonna have to fix my bro without reference. I mean, I can learn the material in the books pretty fast, but...I don't know if I'm ready to upgrade a giant robot all on my own. I feel kind of nervous about it."

Dimentio blinked a few times. Most of the time, Mr. L was confident and even boastful of his abilities. This was the first time he ever noticed a dent in that confidence. I need to see how he would feel about this idea. Maybe I can try testing him.

The magician laughed before wrapping an arm around the man in green. He pulled him close and spoke softly into his ear. "Nervous? You have no reason to be nervous, my dear Mr. L. You started out by knowing nothing about robotics, then studied vigorously for four weeks and finished your first creation in half that time! Don't you see? You're brilliant." Dimentio turned to his friend and smiled when he saw how his words were affecting him.

Mr. L was blushing. And not so subtly either. His cheeks were as red as a fresh tomato. He grinned and laughed. "Y-You really think I'm brilliant?"

Dimentio shook his head. "I don't think. I know."

The Green Thunder smirked. "Damn right you do! I'm one of the Count's best, after all!"

"Of course you are. Now, we should probably be heading back."

Mr. L nodded before picking up his bags and walking back with Dimentio in silence. Most of the time, he wouldn't stop talking. He was still blushing.

"Are you feeling alright, L? Your cheeks are burning like a wildfire set unexpectedly into the night."

"I'm just thinking about Tristan. That's all."

The magician chuckled. "Whatever you say."

Mr. L's line about how there's enough people in the world to look like him is a reference to Super Mario Galaxy, when you play the game again as Luigi. The other Luigi says, "Well, I guess there's enough people in the universe to look like me."

So, we got some new nicknames for the gang! Mimi is Arachne and Dimentio is Mr. Houdini, although L is the only one who gets that reference. Nastasia is obviously girlie because Mr. L couldn't think of anything better. O'Chunks' nickname will be revealed later. As for the Count...He doesn't get one because he's above the others.

It might be pretty obvious to you guys, but what do you think Dimentio's plan to get to Mr. L is?

-Colorful and Free