Mario and Bowser: Frenemies Forever (Redux)

'The Enemy' (Chapter 1)

2022-3 Important author note: See far bottom.

Zoom! A mushroom powered racer is propelled off the ramp. Their light box cart soars in the sky, creating a picture perfect sweep of their silhouette across the moon, five-thousand or more feet above ground. Screech! The racer in eighth overshoots a tight curve. Sparks fly from the metal rails separating them from death, the same one that promptly collapses in their wake. The racer directly behind cannot stop and flings their selves off the edge. On the opposite half of the track first place racer, distanced from the dangers of the competitors and hecklers in the back of the pack, has their moment of peace shattered when the disgruntled second place relentlessly fires heat seeking red shells.~

On this day as the start of a recreation weekend was a Mario Kart race, one of many extravaganzas where a group of heroes, villains, and those somewhere in between routinely took it to the streets, the dirt tracks, the underwater tracks, sand paths, snow piles, and whatever Cheese Land is supposed to be to win the gold. The circuit concluded with Rainbow Road, a track suspended in the stratosphere where only a thin glassy colorful pane, and Lakitu's diligence, separated the racers from certain doom. Remarkably calming music played from hidden boomboxes, Mario loved that feature, and he could spot high rises from a city. He also found serenity in that here, contrasting other highly publicized event locations, they were cut off from the rest of the busy world. He was in bliss until that nagging alarm indicative of another wave of red shells blew out his eardrum...

"Finally I caught up with ya, moustache!" King Bowser Koopa accelerated up a few yards behind Mario in his kart. His claws dug into the steering wheel from concentration. Not even being ping-ponged a million times by items this cup would stop him. He'd already beaten his way up from his lackluster seventh starting position. How many losers he'd ran over he didn't even really notice, it was only one person he cared about. -Cared about pulverating the most, that was!

For half a lap more it was the two of them, the plumber ahead and his rival close but unable to over take. Chilly wind blew through Mario's hair and mustache as he hummed along to the song, in his own little world. Via his map however, it seemed all the blips representing additional racers were nearly on him. Sheepishly he realized his foot must have fallen sleep, lulled by the unadulterated sights of the landscape below, and mashed more fully on the gas pedal. Worse yet, a blip was right on him. The item box he collided with gave him a single banana deployed a little too late. There was his party crasher!

"Heard ya tryin' to catch a tune, plumber boy!" Bowser slid along parallel. "Catch this instead!"

Mario was sideswiped by lit bob-bomb. He swerved dangerously close to the edge to dodge. With a metallic thud it bounced over his head and back onto the track where it exploded behind him. He glared at Bowser, now in his coveted first place. They took turns mean mugging one second, watching the road next.

"You're gonna regret that, Koopa!" Mario rammed his kart into Bowser's from the left. Of course his rival wasn't buffeted much by that, actually not at all! Like a flea pestering a giant, Mario repeatedly clambered to regain dominance as they traversed through a zero gravity loop, descended down a spiral, outwitted a blue shell twice, and came on the finish line in the distance.

"Woohoo!" With unreal speed Toad zoomed past Mario and Bowser's stunned faces. He was so fast from that golden mushroom however that he collided with and spun out on stray bananas. His kart kept spinning into a guard rail that forced him to relinquish his modest yet respectable third place to a green dinosaur. Yoshi was in their rear view. He took a shortcut on the treacherous anti-gravity bends with ease, no items even needed. Mario knew he'd might need to worry about that one. They made sure to never abuse each other during these games but when his oldest and best friend had the gleam in his eyes like he did now as he propelled nearer, Mario wasn't so sure anymore. Then with the roar of a rocket engine, someone barreled beyond Yoshi, knocking him over, and right against Mario's back bumper. With a poof Bowser Junior emerged from the bullet bill item that quickly obviate him from an otherwise miserable eleventh.

The red plumber audibly huffed though his nose, now sandwiched between the two Bowsers and finish line less than a mile away. He didn't even know the tyke was participating in this race. Bowser hadn't mentioned it yet, and during their special eternal rivalry moments Junior could be such a brat! A mood ruiner, much like a crazy toad with a thundercloud over him seeking revenge by weaving around a koopa, Toadette, Luigi, Donkey Kong, and Birdo to hone in on Mario specifically.

"Whoa there, speedy!" Mario exclaim. With a shrill zap and screech however, his chaotic toad friend came just short, his gambit only taking Junior as collateral. Then for another split second, it was just Mario and Bowser again.

"Good riddance. These losers were starting to get too much narration," Bowser muttered. "This is about OUR rivalry!" he then guffawed.

Mario wryly took that opportunity to mini-turbo drift around him, orange sparkling rear wheels swinging off the edge of the track briefly, and stealing first.

"HEY!" he heard Bowser growl.

Too late, too bad. The hero Mario was just yards away from the checked pattern etched on the rainbow road. So anxious and excited, the hairs on his arms were raising up. He could feel it through his long sleeves. Kind of atypical of him actually. Thunder crackled, he'd better beat the rain. ...Wait a minute.

Simultaneously Rainbow road was shrouded by a flash that could be seen a vast distance away, so far in fact it was observed beyond the skies and into the the heavens. There the Great Eldstar resided in a temple. Simply lounging around his pager had just ceased to vibrate from a request, his way to be relayed information from their known Mushroom World below.

"Lightning Strike? Y/N?" the flickering screen of the fate altering device was stuck displaying over and over despite the request granted. He'd need to fix the busted thing. "WOW!" Then the ancient star dropped it accidently onto his white marble floors. The battery compartment was torn off with a loud clack, not louder however than the exclamation coming from the observation deck of the temple that made him drop it in the first place. The elder star was still straining his eyes groping the floors for the batteries when voices echoed in the adjacent hall.

"Aww!" whined a childlike voice, Twink.

"It is indeed unfortunate I bet Misstar for him to win. This Mario Kart will end in a whimper with that lightning item damage," a much more mature one, Klevar chimed in.

Eldstar caught a glimpse of the pair strolling past his open doorway. Now that request made sense. Some racer well versed in the stars really wanted to win..

...Back on their Earth, or five-thousand feet above it to be exact, Mario came too. Afterimages blotting out all but the peripherals of his vision, he felt a sinking sensation. It was mostly from plummeting to this doom but equally because the lap timer was still going, no one had crossed the line and placed first yet. Singed black the plumber was dropped back on the track, frustratingly at the checkpoint instead of where he'd careened off. He mashed the gas and inched forward. Fist slamming against the wheel, knew he'd regret configuring together a max speed kart loadout at the cost of acceleration and it was plain torture. Bowser then plopped right in front of him, courtesy of Lakitu. What a jerk! Bowser gave the plumber a side glance and smirk, flashing sharp white teeth. When a confetti cannon went off near the finish line that was quickly replaced with a scowl.

The lap timer froze on his kart's dashboard. Someone had taken first. Jaw open, Mario spun to the large display. And first place was...

"Oh, thank you dear!" said Princess Peach, coyly accepting the gold medal from none other than Mario Mario, the creator and award presenter of the karting activity. If he'd placed first he had a chance to use his 'routine'. He would pretend he couldn't spot the winner anywhere. They must have fallen into a warp pipe, or got lost finding the bathroom, or got cold feet- only to remember it was this 'chump right here', himself. Perhaps unflattering and silly if most people did such a stunt, but Mario's friends and fans found the random scenarios he came up with funny every. Single. Time.

He held his hand out to help Peach down from the podium. She chose a sporty jump suit attire for the race and it was pink and pristine, and funnily not scorched at all, unlike the other racers.. He even assisted Toad off the second place spot which was quite high up for him. The lowest third place spot was unoccupied. Perhaps he could have tried his missing persons joke for that, but it wouldn't have the same ring to it with out the self reference. Furthermore he'd be lying because he did know where that person was and why they weren't claiming it yet. Post race and normal sized, the eleven racers concluded their gathering in the garage.

Toad, who kept speaking gibberish for some reason, kept shoving that silver medal in everyone's faces while they scattered quickly out the garage. Their vehicles would be transported separately and most of them were a considerable distance from home, tired, and wanting to rest for what was planned tomorrow. The garage for Rainbow Road was at Star Road, another reason why Mario liked it. Most raving fans couldn't afford to travel there on a dime.

"Get over 'ere!" Bowser ambushed Mario in the middle of sliding the metal doors shut. "Where is it?"

Mario feigned surprise. "Oh you mean this?" He untucked the bronze medal from within his red shirt.

Steam shot off of Bowser. "YES! I earned that bronze, moustache! Keep it away from your sweaty chest hair!"

Bowser Jr. giggled behind his fathers leg, causing his father to flush.

Mario swung the ribbon around his finger. "Well you never came on stage to get it so I was just making sure when you did, you'd remember me whenever you look at it on that empty trophy shelve of yours. Here, just to be sure." He began fogging the cold medal with his hot breath, trying not to laugh as Bowser went ballistic. This was exactly as Mario planned really. He usually was the last to leave to get the autographs and pictures out the way. Here however it just meant a rare moment he couldn't resist taking advantage of.

"Daddy daddy daddy I want something to drink!" whined the koopa child then, tugging on his father.

Bowser sighed heavily. "Just gimme the blasted thing!" He snatched the bronze away. "-And got a few coins, plumberboy?"

Tears still rolling down his face, Mario dug in his pocket. "Hey, don't forget the game tomorrow."

"Whatever, I ain't even participating. What's the point?"

"You only watch when you participate?"

"Well yeah?! I just... happen to participate a lot so I get your confusion on this matter, pipes for brains, I really do. But shut up, got enough for two snacks?"

Mario rolled his eyes. He gave a few coins to Junior and told him to run off to the snack machine on the side of the garage, not illuminated the only lamp in the area, but they were both supervising him closely. With the child occupied he whispered, "Why don't you leave Junior with your other kids or grandparents? My sports are dangerous, we know this. Also.. he's been with 'us' every time lately."

Bowser turned back to Mario and narrowed his eyes at him, somewhat comically with the medal unable to fit over his head and instead caught on his horns and hanging as a hairband type thing. "'Cause, I... It's hands on villainy training! Plus I thought ya might like it," he said, deflating slightly. Then his voice raised again, "And besides, I ain't even seen ya in ages. Peace Pact, remember?"

Mario then frowned a little, regretting what he'd just said. "I know. It's just that people like to talk and he's getting old enough to as well. It's not like." -As Junior came running back to them, "It's not like you Koopas deserve to know what's going on with me or my friends! So as the pact says keep the distance! And your eyes off the princess!" he tacked on.

"Bwahahaha!" Bowser replied, playfully picking his son up. Junior was clutching a Morel Moxie can and a bag of corn chips snacks. "We'll see 'bout that!" Bowser winked as his airship finally arrived. It was a dark yet unmistakable naval object in a darker sky, anchor starting to descend as it drew close.

Mario then knew he needed to take his leave before he was spotted. It would already be awkward to explain what was taking so long to his roommate and brother and the ride would be long and boring. He decided to use his last coins on a snack for himself. He quickly scanned that same machine in the dark, a mix of emotions in him. Anticipation for the game tomorrow, mild annoyance he was so lackadaisical and unfocused during the races, apprehension of how the rest of the night might go, among other things..

He tried eagerly for a FungusUp, a citrusy soda he had not seen in some time. He pressed the half busted button for it and nothing happened. Out of stock. He settled for the stale chips next. It's holder retracted just short, leaving the pack dangling upside down. He debated leaving it, but he'd have empty pockets for nothing. He gave the machine a firm kick instead. It rattled and the chips fell. He was just reaching inside for it when he hear a low drone, a type of blowhorn the doomships used when departing. Standing up again he turned and caught sight of the anchor swinging his way. It whacked him clean off his feet. Mario was flailed in the sky across the stars. He saw more upon landing again.

Keep your friends close, enemies closer. 'The enemy' rather. That motto the plumber took to heart, whether racing to save the world and the princess or casually go-karting with Bowser. While being in each others physical presence was an uncommon occurrence, he had other ways to keep the Kingdom safe from his meddling via indirect communication.

After a two hour visit to the Star Road ER, Mario was discharged and told to rest and take his aspirin. For the most part he just shook it off. That meant his return home would be in the early hours. At least Luigi wouldn't be able to yell at him now until the morning. A traumatized looking nurse quickly slipped him a scratchy letter from a 'pal'.

To Mario only (OR ELSE): This is 'You know who'. Yeah I think we hit something! You! Whoops! I guess my driver was rushing because 'my son' has a Scouts trip in the morning. Anyway I'll make it up to you. How? I'll be your tennis partner tomorrow! Genius right? We can trash those other losers. Whoever your old partner was can sit on the bleachers. I changed the forms and everything already by [the word 'threatening' is scratched out] 'explaining' the situation to Lakitu. Get ready!

PS. This isn't a ploy to expand my totally not empty trophy case for once or anything..

Mario folded the letter up, sighing. Now he'd really have some explaining to do. His tennis partner was supposed to be Luigi!

To be continued...

2022/3 update: Hello everyone, while this shares the story ID of another 'Redux' I wrote around 2019-21, this is a new story now. The original is on my website, see profile. Keep in mind that for the first few chapters of this story, you will at the bottom see references to the old Redux/Frenemies Forever 2, primarily with the cited dates. Please ignore those.

Completed (for my reference): 5/16/19, 5/17, 5/26/19, 6/2, 6/4, 6/10

Edit: 6/20/19, 6/23, 7/1

Revise: 1/12/22, 1/13