Chapter 5: Meetings, Reunitings, and a Revealment

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Authors' Notes: Once again, thank you for your reviews, everyone! : ) It seems that you guys really like Goombario and Goombella as a couple… We might drop hints now and then that they like each other a little, but I don't think we'll go too far with it because it just seems, well… it doesn't seem Paper Mario-like, if y'know what I mean. Sonic 2 and I are really trying to make this fanfic match up with the games, and if we think something doesn't seem too likely to happen in a Paper Mario game, we usually don't do it.

Homer56712: Glad you're enjoying the story! Oh, and it's not a problem about how you thought we deleted your review—the review thing was going weird during the upgrade. (Some reviews started appearing at the bottom of the list!) No need to swear.

Naval Ace: Sonic 2 actually thought of the way Goombella was introduced. I liked it, too!

Random67: I really enjoyed reading your review! I know whatcha mean about Bowser acting a little meaner—I told Sonic 2 that we should try to make him a little funnier, as he is in the games, and Sonic 2 agreed. So, we're gonna try to match him up more with his personality in the Paper Mario games in future chapters. : ) Yiss, the trials will be hard—not only for Mario, but also for Sonic 2 and I because we have to write it. Still tryin' to make up stuff for it. I only made up a lot of the trial thing as I was writing the last chapter, so it was kinda' at the last second, and I still don't have much of an idea how, exactly, the trials should be… but I have confidence that I'll come up with some ideas, and if not, well, Sonic 2 probably will.

Vbc: I think you'll find that you'll be pleasantly surprised… : D Tell us what you think about a certain character's appearance in this chapter after you read it, ok? (And you, too, A. Nonymous and Homer56712!) Trust me—you'll know who it is!

A. Nonymous: I knew you'd like how old party members came back—I do myself! Of course, not all of them will, but a nice amount will, as you'll see after reading this chapter. By the way, I'm sorry if Admiral Bobbery's accent isn't done too well… it's my first time doing an accent like his.

After re-reading the last chapter, I think Princess Peach's perspective was a little over dramatic… I'll try not to make her parts too much like that in the future. Oh, and how do you guys think Mario acts? Personally, I think he ends up kinda' feminine… which can only be expected since I'm a female, and Sonic 2 doesn't seem to be too enthusiastic about writing the plumber's parts… But he'll be helping me with that more in the future.

Well, after this long A/N, here is the next loooooong chapter for your enjoyment! Thanks for your patience!

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Parakarry was in the Toad Town Post Office, talking to his boss and preparing to deliver everyone's mail.

"Try not to be so absent-minded and careless this time, Parakarry," said Parakarry's boss as he handed the Paratroopa a small sack filled with letters. "We can't afford to lose five letters every time you deliver!"

"I know, Sir," said Parakarry, pouring the sack of letters into his mailbag that was draped across his shoulders. "I'll try to be more careful from now on. I think I'm improving now… or at least, I'm trying to."

"Well, you should really pay more attention!" replied his boss. "I can't imagine why someone as scatterbrained as you would ever want to be a postal deliverer…"

"Not many Paratroopas were up for the job, and I thought it'd be a good way of helping me to overcome my… carelessness," explained Parakarry. He strapped on his brown pilot's cap, and lowered his flying goggles over his eyes, about to announce that he was going to depart, when he heard a beeping noise.

Dun-a-linnel, dun-a-linnel, dun-a-linnel!

"E-mail," he informed his boss. He took out his laptop computer, and entered into his Mailbox SP. "Wow, it's from Mario! I didn't expect him to e-mail me. I hope everything's okay… I remember hearing that he left to go to Rogueport."

Parakarry opened up the e-mail and read it quietly to himself. When he was done, his eyes shone with excitement and determination. "Mario says that he's going to need my help in rescuing the Princess! I hate to ask this, Sir, but… could I please be granted permission to assist Mario? That is, taking some days off?"

Parakarry's boss hesitated a second, then said, "Oh, what is there to think about? If the Princess is in trouble, and Mario is asking for your help, get out there and don't worry about mail delivery! I'll have a substitute replace you."

"Thanks for understanding, Sir!" replied Parakarry. "I'll try to help Mario get the Princess back as soon as possible so I can get back to my job. Well, I better get going—Mario says that I'm supposed to meet up with some other of his old partners at the port." He dumped the letters out of his mailbag onto the desk, and then exited.

This couldn't be a better time for Mario to need help! But Parakarry understood the seriousness, and he soared determinedly into the air, heading to Toad Town's port side.

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In Shy-Guy's Toybox, Watt was training with General Guy and the rest of the Shy-Guy Squad. They were all lined up in three rows in the room Mario had fought General Guy in, and were standing erect as General Guy paced by them. When he came to Watt, the General Shy-Guy stopped.

"You there—Watt!" he said. Even though Watt had helped defeat him in the past, General Guy was still thinking of himself as a superior, and allowed Watt to participate in the training sessions he held.

If Watt could salute, she would have, but since she didn't have any arms, she could only give a small jump in acknowledgment to General Guy's addressing. "Yes, Sir? If you need my unique ability to light up darkness, it's no problem!"

General Guy spoke in a very official- and, what he considered to be, military-like style. "You're willing to obey, and I approve of willingness! But, if I want something, I do not need you to suggest things. I will simply issue a command, and you will then carry it out. Understood?"

"Yes, Sir," said Watt a little irritably, feeling impatient for an answer to her inquiry.

"Now, I am going to see how well you do in battle. You will verse…" General Guy paused, searching the lines of Shy-Guy's with his eyes for a good combatant for Watt. His gaze rested on Anti-Guy. "…Anti-Guy!"

Watt adopted what she thought was a determined look. "I'm ready! Not only can I light up darkness, but I'm also an awesome fighter."

"Well, now is your chance to prove that," said General Guy. "Both of you, come up front here!" Anti-Guy and Watt followed General Guy as he led them in front of the first row of Shy-Guys, where a clear space was between some large, colored paper formed as building blocks. General Guy hopped onto this paper building-block structure as Watt and Anti-Guy faced each other. "You two both should remember that this is only—" He was interrupted by a high-pitched sound.

Dun-a-linnel, dun-a-linnel, dun-a-linnel!

General Guy looked around suspiciously, angry that he had been interrupted. "I demand to know—what was that?"

Watt gave him an apologetic—and slightly embarrassed—smile. "Oh, that's my e-mail, Sir." She took out her own small computer, which was yellow and had a small sticker of her on it.

"I do not like being interrupted, and do not approve of technological things such as that to be turned on during a training session!" said General Guy, giving Watt a severe stare.

Watt had quickly read the e-mail, and she gasped. "It's from Mario! And he wants me to assist him in saving Princess Peach! It's so nice to have my skills and ability appreciated…" Then, as if remembering where she was, Watt gave General Guy a business-like look. "Sir, I request permission to leave and help Mario. Going on another adventure with him might help me improve… if I can improve anymore."

General Guy sat for a moment in thoughtful silence. Then he said, "Permission granted. You will come back a stronger fighter after you have had some more battle experience… even if you will be traveling with someone who defeated me in the past…"

"YES!" said Watt. "Thank you, Sir! I will leave immediately!" Living up to her statement, she turned to the entrance (and also the exit) of the room, her mind focusing on arriving at the Toad Town ports as Mario's e-mail had instructed.

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Sushie kept an attentive eye on the Yoshi infants playing on Lava Lava Island. A considerable amount of time had passed since Mario had found them when they had gotten lost in the jungle, and they were beginning to grow restless of the small Yoshi village again. However, they were somewhat less mischievous because of that experience, and were now pleading with Sushie, this time asking if they could just go a short way into the jungle instead of their usual way of concocting troublesome schemes. But Sushie remained firm in her decision.

"Don't you remember what happened the last time you 'took a little walk in the jungle?' If it weren't for Mario, who knows what would've happened to you?" she said to young Green Yoshi, who acted as leader of the infant Yoshis.

"But Sushie, things are different now," protested Green Yoshi in a slightly whining tone.

"Well, the jungle isn't any different now—it's just as dangerous as it used to be, and I absolutely don't want you or any of the other young Yoshis going in it!" replied Sushie authoritatively.

"But what if you came with us?" suggested Blue Yoshi.

"Yeah!" The other Yoshis agreed heartily.

"You helped Mario when he went in," Red Yoshi spoke up, "so you'll be tough enough with us!"

"The circumstances were different then," said Sushie. "That was an urgent situation involving the life of Princess Peach. You simply want to take a leisurely stroll in there for no reason at all other than you're bored. The jungle…" The Yoshis had heard Sushie say this before, and they already guessed what was coming. They joined in, repeating it with Sushie as the fish baby-sitter continued, "…should never be considered anything except a dangerous place, and should only be entered when an urgent affair arises."

Sushie gave the Yoshis a reproving stare. "That's exactly correct. You may play only within the boundaries of our village, and are not allowed to go into the jungle. Subject closed!"

The Yoshis wandered off, disappointed. Sushie watched them fondly. For all her strictness, she really did like the little gang… even if they did make her baby-sitting job complicated. In fact, it was because of her fondness for them that she was strict. But, she knew that they were only young Yoshis, and that they'd soon mature…

Her thoughts were interrupted by a strange beeping sound.

Dun-a-linnel, dun-a-linnel, dun-a-linnel!

"What in the world?" she said to herself, looking around in every direction, wondering where the sound was coming from. Then she remembered—the small computer she had recently gotten! It was still new, and she often forgot she had it, especially because of her dealings with the Yoshi infants.

Pulling it out, she managed to get into her Mailbox SP and was surprised to see an e-mail from Mario. She quickly read it, eager for news from the plumber. She was shocked when she read that Princess Peach had been kidnapped and that the entire earth might be destroyed—in less than thirty days!

Realizing that the situation was very urgent, she snapped shut the computer and put it away, heading off to find the Yoshi Chief to let him know that she must leave to help Mario. If she wanted to make it to the Toad Town ports soon, she'd better get a move on!

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At the Glitz Pit, Yoshikid had been fighting solo since his adventure with Mario, and he had been steadily working his way up to the top. His fame kept spreading and spreading—it helped that he had once been the companion of Mario when Mario had his famous career in the Glitz Pit—and he had collected plenty of fans. Now, the young Yoshi was getting ready to fight Rawk Hawk himself, who was the current champion!

A security guard walked into the major-league locker room, where Yoshikid was preparing for his title match. "Yoshikid! Follow me. It's time for your big fight. We have a full house out there!"

Yoshikid licked his paw and ran it through his brightly-colored mohawk. "I'm ready!" He followed the security guard out to the fighting arena.

As soon as the little dino walked in, all the people who had attended the fight went wild, screaming out support to him as he walked up to the platform where all the fights were held.

"Yeah! You rock!"

"WOOOOOOOOOOOH! GO YOSHIKID!"

"Get 'em!"

"Yo-shi, Yo-shi, Yo-shiKID!"

"YOU GO, MAN!"

One Shy-Guy, however, didn't think much of Yoshikid, and screamed out, "BOOOO! Get off the stage, little baby! Rawk Hawk is gonna smash you like a BUG!"

Yoshikid couldn't help but yell back in reply, "We'll just see about that!"

He hopped up the last step and onto the raised platform where Rawk Hawk was already waiting for him. "So, you finally decided to show up," said Rawk Hawk. "It's a good thing, otherwise all my fans wouldn't get to see me prove my strength. It's just like I always say… DON'T MESS WITH THE HAWK, OR YOU MIGHT GET RAAAAAAWWWKED!"

"Yeah, well, I'm here now, aren't I? It's time to show you just what kind of stuff I'm made of. Prepare for a major beating!" said Yoshikid, his face resolute.

Ms. Jolene, a Toad who had taken over the Glitz Pit after Grubba was found to be behind the missing fighters, stood slightly behind the two opponents. She wore a red suit, and her mushroom head had pink spots instead of the standard red. A tuft of blonde hair hung down and blocked her face slightly. She adjusted her glasses in her usual manner as she tried to hype up the audience for the fight. "In this next battle, we have the Rising Star… Yoshikid, who's going for the champion title of the entire Glitz Pit!"

"WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOH!"

The audience roared and screamed loudly, causing Ms. Jolene to pause as she waited for the hype to calm down. Yoshikid raised his hands in the air in acknowledgment, glad that he had such supporting fans.

After a moment, Ms. Jolene spoke over the audience's excitement, calming them down. "And he's fighting none other than the Smashing Sensation… Yes, a heated battle with none other than Rawk Hawk, the current Glitz Pit champion!"

"YEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAH! FEEL THE RAWK!!"

Again, the crowd went wild. All Rawk Hawk's fans were screaming their support and encouragement at the top of their lungs. Rawk Hawk gave Yoshikid a taunting grin. "See? Even my fans know that you're no match for me!"

A fan from the audience shouted out, "That's right! Rawk Hawk's gonna RAWK YA!"

"Cut the bragging—it'll only make you feel more humiliated when I win!" Yoshikid retorted to his opponent.

Ms. Jolene again spoke, yelling, "Get ready to—"

Dun-a-linnel, dun-a-linnel, dun-a-linnel!

Ms. Jolene looked at Yoshikid, where the sound seemed to be coming from. Taking the mic away from her mouth, she said, "Yoshikid? What's that noise I just heard?"

Yoshikid flipped out his laptop computer with a sheepish look. "Oh, um… it's just my e-mail. I forgot to get rid of the computer. Let me just see who it's from a sec, OK?"

Ms. Jolene sighed. "Well, hurry—the fans are waiting!"

"Fight already!" cried an anxious fan. "Don't look at your dumb e-mail!!"

Yoshikid gasped in shock as he opened the e-mail and began reading it, ignoring the fan. "Hold everything, it's from the Great Gonzales!" he said, using Mario's Glitz Pit fighting name. "It's gotta be something urgent—he never e-mailed me before…"

One excited fan shouted out quickly, "GREAT GONZALES?! I LOVE THE GREAT GONZALES! IF HE'S ASKING YOU TO COME ON ONE OF HIS ADVENTURES, THEN GO, MAN, GO!!!"

When Yoshikid finished reading the message, he put his computer away, his eyes glowing meaningfully. "Look, it's not that I'm scared or anything, but I'm gonna have to forfeit. There's a serious situation going on with Gonzales here. The entire planet could be destroyed! And Mario's asking for my help. So I gotta go!"

He began hopping down the stairs of the platform, when he turned back to Rawk Hawk. "Don't think you've seen the last of me—I'll be back to fight you soon!"

Yoshikid's fans, who had grown quiet to hear what was going on, shouted encouragement as he pattered over to the doors that led out of the fighting arena.

"You rule—go save the world!"

"THAT'S RIGHT, YOU GO, MAN—JUST LIKE I SAID TO!!"

"I know you and the Great Gonzales can do it, YOSHIKID!"

"Hurry and get back for a re-match!"

"GOOD LUCK, DUDE!"

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Belldam, Marilyn, and Vivian—the three Shadow Sirens—were in the forest near Twilight Town and the Creepy Steeple. They liked it there because it was quiet and away from all the staring eyes of the townsfolk. Since Grodus's defeat, it had become their most-visited place.

Belldam, the oldest (and also smallest-in-size) of the three, wasn't as mean as she used to be to her two sisters, but she still acted as their leader and could still easily lose her temper.

Marilyn, the second oldest (and also biggest-in-size), wasn't the smartest match in the box. The only thing she could do to attempt to communicate with her sisters was to make a strange sound in her throat that suggested she was about to throw up. However, she was the best when it came to fighting battles, having more endurance and strength than they did.

Vivian, the youngest (and also medium-in-size) of the three, was gentler, more considerate, and quieter than her other two sisters. She didn't like fighting as much, and had less endurance and strength than they did. But, when her spunky fighting spirit was aroused, she could put up quite a fight.

All three were just talking in the forest at the moment.

"You know what we need?" Belldam said. "We need another job that suits us! Sitting around and just rolling through life with ease isn't what I had in mind for us!"

"But Belldam, what is there for us to do?" asked Vivian in her quiet way. She didn't have a problem with no adventure.

Belldam replied, "That's the problem: there's nothing for us to do! And I, for one, am sick of it! Wouldn't you two like some excitement, too?"

"Guh!" said Marilyn in her usual (and slightly annoying) way.

"I don't mind having no adventure," said Vivian. "It was only a few months ago that we had the whole Crystal Star thing. As long as no one needs help like Mario did, I'm happy just relaxing for now. I liked helping Mario, and if he ever needed help again, I'd go. It was just such a good feeling helping him to save the Princess and solving the mystery of the Thousand-Year Door… But if he doesn't need help, well, I don't have any complaints."

Belldam sighed. "That's the problem with you two… you always seem to disagree with me!"

"Guuuuh?" said Marilyn.

"We don't disagree on purpose, Belldam... It just happens that way…" replied Vivian.

Dun-a-linnel, dun-a-linnel, dun-a-linnel!

"Vivian, is that your e-mail again?" said Belldam.

"I think so," said Vivian. When she had seen Mario using a computer, and had realized how useful it was, she had gotten one herself. "Let me see who it's from this time." She entered her Mailbox SP, and found Mario's message. "Hey, it's from Mario! I was just talking about him. What a coincidence that he would send me an e-mail…!"

"Guh?" said Marilyn.

"What does it say?" demanded Belldam.

"This is weird… Mario says that he needs some help from me because Bowser's trying to destroy the earth and has Peach captive," said Vivian in a shocked tone.

"You want to go off and leave us here, don't you?" said Belldam. "Well… go ahead. This wasn't exactly what I had in mind when I was talking about excitement. Ever since that whole thing with Grodus, I feel guilty around that plumber… Besides, I just remembered that Doopliss was starting to get bored himself, so Marilyn and I will stay here to watch him, unless we're needed. Don't get yourself hurt, Vivian!"

"Guh!" said Marilyn in what seemed like agreement.

"I'll do my best!" said Vivian in reply. "Stay safe." With that, she disappeared into the ground, using the special ability the three sisters all had. She prepared to re-surface at Rogueport, where Mario had said to go.

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Back at Rogueport, another person was arriving: Jr. Troopa, a strange yellowish creature that still had his eggshell clinging to his body. He had often tagged along in the past, challenging Mario to fights that he, Jr. Troopa, always lost. He hadn't seen Mario for a while, however, but he had been training at the Toad Town Dojo, and wanted to challenge Mario to another fight.

When the news had reached him that Mario had traveled all the way to Rogueport because Princess Peach was missing, Jr. Troopa had two choices—wait for Mario to come back, or go to Rogueport himself. Being the impatient type, Jr. Troopa had chosen to set out to Rogueport… and it had been no easy task flying across the ocean using his two bat wings…

He landed now in Rogueport's east side. Breathing heavily, he exclaimed triumphantly, "I finally—pant—made it!" He looked around at Rogueport, noticing that the inhabitants looked more roguish and acted less polite than most of the citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom. "This seems like my kind of place. Now if I can only find Mario…"

Suddenly, he spotted the familiar red-clad plumber through an arch in a brick wall ahead of him. He was messing with a computer while two Goombas, one of which Jr. Troopa recognized as an old partner of Mario's, stood nearby. Tottering across a small, rickety bridge, Jr. Troopa crept up to the trio, making sure to stay out of view. He was curious what they were up to.

As he got closer, he was able to hear what Mario, Goombario, and Goombella were saying.

"How's it going with the e-mail, Mario?" Goombario inquired. "Almost done?"

"Yeah, it's taking forever!" Goombella couldn't help but complain. "What's the deal?"

"Well, I've just finished e-mailing Parakarry, Watt, Sushie, Yoshikid, and Vivian so far," Mario replied. "They've all sent replies saying that they're on their way. So, that leaves Admiral Bobbery."

"Wow, I don't know, like, half those people," said Goombella. "But it's gonna be totally cool meeting them. Oh, and about Admiral Bobbery—well, he's taking a three-day break after going on his latest sea voyage, so he should be in the next house over."

Jr. Troopa realized that they were talking about the house he was spying right in front of! He was still mad at Mario for defeating him in their fights during Mario's quest for the Star Spirits, but he knew that Mario plus two tough-looking Goombas would be able to beat him. So, he'd just have to do something to reduce their number…

Rushing out suddenly, he sped by the trio, aiming for Goombella. Goombella, thinking he was some crazy rogue just running past, tried to move out of his way, but Jr. Troopa kept a straight course at her. He hit the spunky female Goomba, causing her to fly into the air a little and land on his back. He got a firm hold of her foot.

"Mario! Isn't that the crazy kid who tried to fight you before?" asked Goombario. "He's trying to capture Goombella! We gotta do something!"

"No need," said Mario, who had seen the whole thing. "Look—he's heading back this way. Make sure he doesn't get past here!" Sure enough, Jr. Troopa had skidded to a stop and was running back top speed towards Mario and Goombario, still holding Goombella by the foot. (Jr. Troopa's amateur plan was to toss Goombella in the ocean to get rid of her, you see.)

Goombario and the plumber tried to bar the entrance cut into the brick wall, but Jr. Troopa managed to cannon by them—right into the open door of Admiral Bobbery's house!

THUD.

Jr. Troopa was flattened against the door—if it's possible for him to be any flatter than what he already was—and Goombella's foot slipped from his grasp. Goombella hopped up as Bobbery stepped outside and Jr. Troopa fluttered down in a papery way onto the ground, his eyes rolling around while little stars circled his head in the way he always did after Mario had defeated him.

"Sheesh, what the heck was his beef?!" demanded Goombella. "You see crazier freaks every day around here!" She averted her attention from Jr. Troopa, and said to Bobbery, "Well, I guess I should say thanks for opening the door just in the nick of time. But I could've gotten away from that weirdo myself. Still… thanks, Bobbery!"

"Oh, it was nothing," said Bobbery. "Glad to know you're okay, Goombella."

"How couldn't I be? That was the worse attempt at a capture I've ever seen!" replied Goombella.

"So, you're Admiral Bobbery, huh?" asked Goombario, surveying Bobbery. The dark-colored Bob-omb had a ship's steering wheel attached to his back that spun continually at a steady rate. He also had two bushy eyebrows that covered his eyes, and a fuzzy mustache that gave him a certain 'salty old sea dog' look.

"That's right, old bean. And who are you?" inquired Bobbery.

"I'm known as Goombario. I'm an old-time partner of Mario's," replied the Goomba. "Nice meeting you."

"Um… pardon me," put in Mario, "but we have a pretty urgent situation here. Admiral Bobbery, we'll be needing your help on this." Mario quickly explained about Bowser's plot to destroy the world.

When he finished, Bobbery said, "This is a serious matter indeed… You say that your other partners are on the way, Mario?"

"Yeah, I just finished sending e-mails to them all," replied Mario. "They should all be here within an hour… except maybe Sushie. She's the farthest away."

"I see. Well, while we're waiting, why don't we get a little something to eat from Zess T.?" suggested Bobbery. "There's really nothing else to do, old chap."

"I'm for that!" said Goombella. "Some refreshment would definitely do us all some good. You and Goombario must be specially hungry, Mario, after that long sea voyage and all."

"But what if Vivian arrives while we're in there?" said Mario. "She's the closest to us, and she might not be able to find us."

"Did someone mention me?" Vivian emerged from the ground. She wore her usual red-and-white striped hat, and her pink hair curled out from under it.

"Vivian!" exclaimed Mario in surprise.

"Hi, Mario, Goombella, and Bobbery!" said Vivian. "I came as fast as I could after I read your message."

"Hey, Vivian!" said Goombella. "It's great seeing you again."

"Didn't expect you to get here that soon," said Mario. "But yeah, good seeing you!"

"Hello, Vivian," Bobbery said. "It's really been too long, hasn't it?"

"Yeah, it has," replied Vivian with a gentle smile. Then she looked at Goombario. "Oh… I don't think we've met before. My name's Vivian."

"I'm Goombario, old-time partner of Mario's," answered Goombario. "I'm helping him, too."

"Well, now that we have the greetings and introductions done, why don't we all get some quick food before that young scamp—whatsisname—Yoshikid arrives?" Bobbery pressed. "He's the second closest, if I remember correctly."

"I wouldn't mind having something to eat," agreed Vivian.

"All right," Mario gave in. "But let's make it quick."

The fivesome headed over to Zess T.'s residence.

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It wasn't long after when all Mario's partners were assembled in Rogueport's central plaza. Mario began the introduction process.

"Goombario, Parakarry, Watt, Sushie," he began, "these are my friends Goombella, Yoshikid, Vivian, and Admiral Bobbery. They helped me solve the mystery of the Thousand-Year Door and save Princess Peach. Goombella, Yoshikid, Vivian, Admiral Bobbery, these are my old partners, Goombario, Parakarry, Watt, and Sushie. They helped me rescue the Star Spirits and Princess Peach, again, a while back."

Friendly greetings were exchanged all around.

"Hello to all of you," said Admiral Bobbery. "I trust you've all heard about this crazy scheme to destroy the planet?"

"I have!" replied Watt. "Mario would never leave out any details when talking or writing to me. He understands my importance."

"A Yoshi kid we have here, eh?" said Sushie, looking Yoshikid over. "I hope you behave yourself and stay out of trouble unlike those little rogues I baby-sit back on Lava Lava Island!"

"Hey, I can take care of myself," said Yoshikid. "I'm a famous fighter at the Glitz Pit, y'know. And I don't need some fish telling me what to do, no offense!"

"Hello!" Parakarry called to Goombella. "Have you met Goombario over there yet? It seems like you'd two get along just fine."

"Hi!" replied Goombella. "Yep, I've met Goombario. He's pretty cool… unlike some freaks I've met. Are you like a postman or something?"

"That's me," answered Parakarry; "a postal deliverer just trying to do his best!"

"Wow, I never knew Mario had so many different friends and partners!" exclaimed Vivian.

"Yeah, he's gotten a lot of help," said Goombario. "Even the famous Mario can use some help sometimes, great as he is."

"Yo, everyone!" Yoshikid said above the hubbub. "What're we doing—having a picnic and giving greetings when the world's gonna be destroyed in less than thirty days! Let's go!"

"Where are we going, anyway?" questioned Watt.

"Ohhh, boy…" said Goombario.

"It's kinda' a long story," Goombella explained. "I'll tell it to you on the way."

"On the way to what?" pressed Sushie.

"Just start leading the way, Mario!" Goombario told the plumber. "Me and Goombella will explain it to them."

The party all headed off with Mario in the lead as Goombella began the loooong story about the legend of the Trials. "It's like this: we're trying to find these Four Trials… they're supposedly… one of them is the Pit of the 100 Trials, which Mario already completed…"

The rest of Goombella's words were not heard by any who were listening—if any were listening—as Mario led them to a warp pipe in Rogueport's east side, and they all disappeared as they went into it.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

A little while later, the same mysterious figure that had just been snooping around the Mushroom Kingdom hopped off the boat that Mario and Goombario had taken earlier. Ignoring the Captain's parting words, the small figure, still wearing its cloak, pattered up the staircase that led to Rogueport's central plaza.

As it headed to Rogueport's east side, it again heard something that caught its interest.

"Stupid Bob-omb! What does he mean opening a door on me like that?! I would've been able to get rid of that Goomba and beat Mario if it weren't for him!" came the angry, high-pitched voice.

The figure saw Jr. Troopa looking around. So, another person who despised that plumber! This was interesting… perhaps he could be of some use… The cloaked figure pattered over to the walking egg, its feet moving in its usual quick motion.

"So… you hate that fat plumber too?" it asked in its squeaky voice.

"Do I hate him? Ha! He's the most annoying person in the world! Thinks he's such a big-shot," replied Jr. Troopa. "What's it to you, anyway? It's not like you'd know anything about it." Jr. Troopa began to walk away to find Mario.

"Oh, well… It's too bad that I know how to get even with him," said the figure carelessly. "But, since you're obviously not interested, I'll just be on my way."

Jr. Troopa turned back around. "Hey, wait! You got my entriest… or—or… however you say it! What's this special way that I can use to get back at him, huh?!"

The figure smiled craftily to itself. "Follow me. If you join with Papa, he'll help you!" Jr. Troopa followed. Bowser Jr. grinned mischievously to himself and added under his breath, "Or you'll help him! Hehehehee!"

To be continued…