A/N Same story as before (Mostly) Something glitched out and the previous version was reduced to a mess of source code. I hate having to delete and reupload like this, but I didn't know if it would fix itself or not. My deepest apologies to anyone that had alerts for this story saved. Ch 2 coming soon
Mushroom Kingdom, Peach's Castle
Sandwiched between the ground floor of Castle Toadstool and the dungeon, there lied the strange laboratory of one Professor E. Gadd, a gifted but inscrutable man of science. He was generally seen as the most practical among his colleagues, not as dynamic in personality as Dr Mad Sciencestein, or as bold as Dr Crygor in pushing the limits of science but discovery. Professor Gadd had devoted his study to understanding life, and unlife. He had spent years studying dry bones, but his true passion was researching bookind.
No one could quite remember when he had taken up residence or who had given him permission to move in. Peach assumed it was one of her advisors, who in turn assumed residency had been granted by each other or the princess herself. It wasn't a mystery why he had set up shop within the castle however. There was a small contingent of boo living (or unliving) in the castle, which were worth studying by themselves, but what actually interested Professor Gadd was the portal to Big Boo's Haunt, known more formally as Big Boo's Mansion (Not to be confused with Boo Mansion) a mansion theorized to exist in the Paranormal Dimension, origin place of bookind and King Boo's personal kingdom.
Naturally a boologist like Professor Gad was fascinated by such a place. His occasional research assistant Luigi was less thrilled at the prospect of meeting more boos, hence the good professor was tinkering around on some new ghost grabbing gadgets, to aid in a future expedition and to hopefully put Luigi's concerns to rest. However, Professor Gadd was working with very unstable elements, trying to merge magic and science, two things that sometimes go together and sometimes not. And sometimes they don't go together but more explosively.
A low rumble made the dungeon denizens look up fearfully, dust drifted down from the ceiling. Professor Gadd lifted his thick goggles and scratched at his remaining tuft of white hair, trying to figure out what had gone wrong, examining the larger pieces of the former electronic device. "Zioo, wkdw zdv dq xqiasifwig uivxow." He said more to himself than to his laboratory assistant, R.O.B. The short boxy robot didn't speak, yet it still managed to express itself in how it reacted to comments or events. His contemplation was interrupted as a small portion of the wall crumbled away, revealing a space behind it. "Zkdw gr zh kdyh khuh?"
'Zrrrrrrr zrrr zzzzzzrrr." R.O.B. buzzed sarcastically as it rolled on treads to the new wall hole, shifting larger rubble away and beginning to clean up dust and smaller pieces of debris. It was clear that the wall had been hastily patched up, and probably wouldn't have stayed up another year anyway, making this a very fortunate accident. Or at least an interesting accident. Surprisingly the false wall hadn't been a merely lazy repair job. There was an object squirrelled in the hole, a dusty crown adorned with a pink mushroom. Gadd had never seen such a power-up item before. "Zzzrr zzrrrrrr!" R.O.B. buzzed in annoyance, bumping into Gadd's leg to get him out of the way.
"Idvfmqdwmqk." Gadd mused, turning the power-up in his hands as he absently stepped away from the moody robot, the explosion already forgotten in his mind as he focused completely on the new mystery at hand. Several hours of tweaking, testing and poking later and Gadd thought he had an idea what the crown did, though he still had no idea why it existed. Or whom had hidden it away originally. Or even why. But he thought it might solve Peach's issues with being kidnapped, if it worked the way he thought it did.
Scans revealed it was a transformative magic item, not unlike a super leaf. A couple notes of interest, the crown was made to alter the wearer to a specific gene matrix. Another note being the crown was older than it looked. Possibly as old as the castle itself. Which just begged the question- why was a priceless family heirloom was hidden away to be forgotten? Or was it meant to be retrieved at some future date but circumstances wouldn't allow its retrieval?
Later in the throne room
"I'm sorry, what now?" Peach asked in confusion, not quite believing what she had just heard proposed. "You want to use this artifact to change one of my loyal subjects into a clone of me, so Bowser will kidnap them next time?" Well, when she said it like that it sounded kinda bad. This was one of the issues of not having a speaking assistant. You couldn't bounce ideas off them to sort the bad ones from the good. And Gadd had so many ideas, who could sort all the terrible ones from the brilliant ones?
"M vxssrvh mq uhwurvshfw-" Gadd started to say, perhaps to salvage the idea, but Peach just raised a gloved hand for him to stop, something she reserved to impress seriousness. The princess was not known for being severe, and the very rare cutoff was the extent of her unbecoming indulgences. That and laying her spoon the wrong way when she was finished with tea.
"I'm sorry, Professor, I can't endanger my people, and whoever takes my place would be doing just that. Furthermore, it would be really easy for this to get out of control. If our enemies got ahold of it the results could be catastrophic, not to even bring up the ethical dilemma of using an experimental object on my citizens-"
That was all the spy-toad known as Toaveth needed to hear. He quickly exited the castle and made his way to a mostly forgotten warp pipe in the abandoned Mario Circuit raceway, a weed-choked relic of a bygone event. He crouched at the base of the rusted tube and held his breath a moment, listening for hungry jaws snapping, or the tell-tell scraping of a piranha plant moving around inside. Of course this system had been supposedly cleared, but that was years ago when this was still an active racetrack, and all it took was one careless mistake to become a piranha snack. Climbing into the tube with a grunt he was whisked to his destination with a speed that defied physics and logic. The pipe exited just outside the creepy old Toadwood Forest, a place of deep shadows and creepy vibes even in the middle of the day. It was a haunted place fed on death, torture and fear.
"Pssst." The Toaveth hissed, trying to alert his contact without actually entering the shadows. "PSSSST!" No response from the Dark Land contact. Toaveth reluctantly walked into the creepy woods, imagining sounds in the brush and eyes in thedark. He hadn't taken ten steps when something grabbed the back of his shirt. "Aaaaaahhhhhhhh!"
"Shhhh it. It's me." The contact recoiled from Toaveth like it had been slapped. It was a black clad anti guy who loved sneaking around and making grand proclamations about Bowser. No wonder he hadn't been noticed among the trees. "What information do you have for our supreme sovereign?" He was a rather forward 'guy' that went by the handle Shadow Guy, a laughably fake name. "Waste not the time of he who serves might, lest you find yourself poised under the hammer of judgement, for we are all mere bugs for our lord to trample upon."
"That senile lunatic- Gadd- he discovered an artifact buried in the castle. A unique crown power-up that Peach is paranoid about. Something of catastrophic proportions according to the princess herself. I assumed it was something Bowser would be interested in." Toaveth looked around as he reported, imagining he could hear unseen horrors surrounding them.
"You presume correctly." Shadow Guy replied, silently disapproving of the lack of honorifics in regards to the Lord of the Dark Lands. "All power naturally flows to the center as nature commands it. Our lord is a vacuum to which all strength is drawn and assimilated, glory to his power and might." Shadow Guy paused dramatically for a moment. "Who else knows of this object?" The dead eye-holes of his mask bore into Toadveth intensely.
"No one else! Peach won't be talking about it and the old man has probably forgotten already." Something crunched some leaves behind him, making Toaveth spin around in fear, visions of angry toad ghosts and feral piranha plants dancing in his head. When he looked back, Shadow Guy was gone!
Dark Lands. Bowser's Castle, throne room
The King of Koopas was busy entertaining his precocious only child. Only birth child, that is. He had long since adopted the koopalings, back when he believed he would never have a true heir, but here was it was, his own little miracle, whom he loved so much as to name after himself. A not-so subtle declaration of the line of succession. Junior was sitting on the arm of the throne as his father spun stories of his past adventures, some real, some made up on the spot.
"But how did you get the blargg to live in the castle lava traps?" Junior asked leaning back too far and starting to fall with a startled squeak. Bowser scooped his hand behind Junior's shell and lifted him back to his perch like nothing.
"I wrestled them out of their lava pools, and when they refused to serve me I tickled them into submission!" Bowser declared with a wicked grin. "Oh, you don't believe your old man?" He continued as Jr looked rather doubtful. "Let me demonstrate!" He gave a mock roar and began teasing Junior's side, almost causing Junior to fall again as he giggled. They were interrupted by a blue-shelled koopa aid silently signaling for Bower's attention.
"My lord." He said when he caught the kings eyes. "Its Shadow Guy."
Bowser sighed. "Say, Champ, why don't you go practice your fire breathing for a while?" He said, gently setting his son on the carpeted stone floor.
"Aw Pops. I already did it todayyyyyy." Junior grumbled, crossing his arms across his bib. He sensed something interesting was about to happen and he didn't want to miss it. Pom Pom the nanny mentally prepared herself for a troublesome afternoon with a cranky Junior.
"Well," Bowser scratched his chin thoughtfully "Why don't you go play your video game... thing. You conquered that yet?"
"Naw, you keep limiting my play time." Junior replied with less of a pout now.
"How would you like some extra play time today? Think you can beat the game for daddy?" He poked Junior in the side again, teasing a smile from the boy now.
"Oh I don't know if more games would be good for him-" Pom Pom started to say, before Junior ran past her.
"Pops said I can play more!" He hollered over his shoulder before Bowser could have his mind changed. Not that that was ever going to happen anyway.
"I'll keep him occupied my lord." Pom Pom bowed and left the way Junior had fled, though Bowser barely noticed, having already dismissed her.
Shadow Guy approached the throne like, well, a shadow. "Report!" Bowser grunted. "This better be something important or I'm deep frying that toad and eating it, then you for dessert." If the threat frightened Shadow Guy he didn't show it. Really unlike a shy guy if you thought about it, but Bowser was not one for deep contemplations. That's why he had advisors.
"My sources say the princess has a new weapon. A magic crown. Potentially devastating in nature, especially if it was used against the Mushroom Kingdom. Such a device existing outside of your control is abominable, my lord. The powerless grasping to pull the strings of destiny from your iron grip, but with..." he went on at some length in that pseudo-poetic dialogue before finally pausing for dramatic effect.
"Get it for me." Bowser cut-in before Shadow Guy could launch into afresh diatribe. "BRING IT BEFORE THE- oh. He's gone. Hm." Bowser usually had to yell at his goons to get them into motion.
"You yelled, lordship?" Kamek the magikoopa asked as he phased through the wall. He had been waiting on Bowser since he was a new baby, then took a parental role over the koopalings. Now he divided his servitude between father and son.
"A new power item was discovered in the Mushroom Kingdom. A crown or something. I sent Shadow Guy to fetch it for me."
"A crown powerup…." Kamek mused aloud. Something about it sounded vaguely familiar. "Let me go check the archives…" He phased through the floor still talking to himself and leaving Bowser to his own thoughts.
Back at Peach's Castle...
Night had fallen and the princess was ready to call it as just that; however, she decided to take a detour to the treasury instead. The crown was locked in a wooden chest with a few other odds and ends of low import, but important enough to be stored as treasure. It didn't look particularly special or dangerous, however appearances could be most deceiving. The mystery surrounding it and its power was as important as the havoc it could wreck, if Professor Gadd's suggestion was to be believed. Her ethics wouldn't allow her to test the magic of the crown on other people, but she still suffered from burning curiosity.
Feeling foolish in spite of herself, she lifted the crown and placed it on her head. There was a quick tingle throughout her body, but nothing more. She didn't know what precisely she expected to happen, but it was probably a dumb idea to be playing with it like this. She suddenly felt self-conscious, as if she was not alone in the treasury. She quickly removed the crown and walked briskly out of the room, slamming the door behind her. "What are you skittish about?" She scolded herself, her hackles still raised for whatever reason. Hating herself but unable to calm herself down, she pulled her robe tighter around her body and hurried to her private quarters. If she had bothered to look back she might have seen a shadow slither from the treasury room, and down the hall towards an open window.
The crown sat tiny on Bowser's massive palm. It looked more like a childs toy than any type of weapon. How could this turn any battle? Why was the princess afraid someone would get it? There was only one way to find out. Similar to Peach, Bowser was afraid to test it on anyone, only out of fear they might become more powerful than him as opposed to ethics. Further mirroring Peach's actions earlier, Bowser slowly placed the crown on his head. The effect was nearly instantaneous. Bowser's body was racked with pain so great he couldn't even gasp out, the exact changes happening to him were hidden by blinding light, forcing Shadow Guy to look away.
As the light faded away the biological alterations became more apparent. His red mane had become flowing golden locks, and his burning crimson eyes changed to cool dazzling azure. His dry scales had melted into perfect pale skin, his flat, armored chest had become curvaceously full, his sides narrowed at his flat stomach, his stubby legs were long and toned now. Bowser had taken on the form of a peak female human. Some aspects of his monstrous nature would not be subdued, however. His proud horns remained, along with an altered, longer tail and a reduced shell size. His spiked armbands had interestingly changed to fit his new size. Unfortunately those were the only stitches of clothing on his body. Rising shakily to his feet, Bowser took in his alterations with confusion and wonder. "What-" he started to say, shocked by the sound of his feminine voice before he tried again. "What the hell have you done to me?" Shadow Guy had wisely chosen to ninja-vanish from the castle.
"What kind of power is this?" Bowser asked himself.