Honestly, guys, I'm still amazingly impressed that at least three of you are still actively following this story. I was almost positive that it would've fallen into obscurity as the years (years!) went on, and yet I still have some loyal (and kick-ass) readers. An enormous thanks to Gijinka Renamon, L. Damarik Laizare, and StoryMaster64 for sticking this crazy adventure out with me!

We're getting down to the nitty gritty here, friends. I don't want to make any promises, but I'm thinking there might only be six or seven chapters left. That may seem like a lot to some of you, or maybe it seems like too few. But let me just promise you that a lot is going to happen in those chapters. I'm getting excited just sitting here thinking about it all.

That being said, now would be a great time to go back to the beginning of the story and give it a quick reread. If you can stomach my horrible 17-year-old self's writing in those first few chapters, it would be good to reacquaint yourself with what's happened so far, since it's all going to come full circle here pretty soon.

Also, if you have a Tumblr or DeviantArt or, hell, even a Facebook or Twitter account, I would love it if you guys could spread the word about this story. I'm having a hard time finding an audience who would give a shit about a fan fiction story like this one. When they ask me what it's about, and I have to answer with "Well, remember that old, senile Koopa from Paper Mario who attacks you with blocks and shit? Yeah, this story is her origin, and it's also a blatant rip-off of Gregory Maguire's Wicked."...yeah, it's hard to find a niche for this story.

But if you guys could maybe get the word out, have your friends read it, whatever...I'd greatly appreciate it. I've been working on this story for a lot longer than I thought I was going to, and I've grown kinda proud of it.

Anyway, this was an obscenely long author's note. Let's jump right into "Queen of the Koopas", before this blurb becomes longer than the damn chapter.

Back in the gymnasium, all of the Koopas, big and small, were now wielding makeshift swords. Some even had wooden shields made out of tabletops and carriage wheels, anything they could salvage. Kammy was pleased by the progress that she was witnessing. This desperate army was starting to shape up.

"Koopley, bring me those bombs you found earlier," she ordered. The masculine Koopa grinned and did as he was commanded. Kammy then turned to Erph.

"Erph, this is crucial," she said to him in as serious a voice she could muster. "I need you to take this Giga and put one – I repeat, one – drop into each of these goblets. We will fill them with wine and give them to our soldiers before we go to battle."

"Ye ain't gonna tell anyone about the Giga?" he asked quietly? "Why not?"

Kammy lowered her voice.

"Because if people find out that we're giving them a potion that grants temporary immortality, they'll get greedy and want it all. The results could be disastrous. It would be best if they didn't know. Remember, one drop."

As Erph took the Giga and walked to a back room, Koopley returned with the black bombs in a large, wheeled basket.

"What are you gonna do with these then?" he asked. Kamilia smiled before addressing her army.

"Attention, everyone!" she shouted. "In a few moments, we are going to battle against the Ashamed Army."

The entire gymnasium was instantly silenced, an uncomfortable and frightened hush filling the air.

"These beings have advanced technology, technology that we don't have nor understand," she continued. "But we have something they don't have. We have strength in our numbers. We have the will to keep fighting. And we have something to fight for.

"Women, think of your men. Men, of your women. Think of your children, and your children's children. Think of your homes and your communities and your loved ones. Think of Het Naamkaartje. Our land, not theirs! Our home, not the Wizard's!

"Today, you're not fighting for The Wizard. Today, you're not fighting for the King! You're not fighting for Bycaster, and you're not fighting for me! Today, you fight for your families! For your loved ones! For your homes! Today, you fight for Koopakind!"

She wheeled the cart full of bombs out in front of her before removing her wand from her robes.

"We don't have the technology they have, this is true," she began, moving her wand in the air. "But their technology means nothing when compared to Het Naamkaartje's magic!"

She focused on the bombs hard, her wand making complicated motions in the air above them. This was a spell she wasn't particularly good at…but she didn't need to create a soul…just a soldier.

After the bombs glowed a dull purple color, the army watched with piqued interest. Koopley, especially, watched in awe, waiting to see what Kammy had done to their weapons.

Suddenly, one of the bombs sprouted an eye. Then another. Then a pair of eyes. Soon, they were all squirming about in the large basket, making funny chirping sounds. The audience looked terrified, but Kammy smiled.

"These bombs are now my soldiers, as well!" she explained. "We will drop them into enemy lines, and they will explode. Because of their indestructible shell, they will march around their camp and continue to blow up their weapons!"

"Suicide bombers without the suicide…" Koopley mumbled under his breath, remarkably impressed. "They're the perfect soldiers!"

"With these bombs on our side," Kammy shouted. "We will win the war!"

Cheers erupted throughout the gymnasium, bouncing off of the walls, almost deafening. Kammy stood there and took it all in. This was it. She was commanding an army of Koopas to defeat the Ashamed with weapons and magic. This was the prophecy. This was her destiny. It was all happening.

Erph came out with a large trolley filled with copper goblets. Some of them were cheap, others were old or falling apart, but Kamilia's Army didn't care. They were celebrating a sure victory not just for their race, but their entire nation. Every single Koopa in the building received a glass (Kammy made sure of it), and they anxiously held them in their claws, awaiting their commander's next order of business.

Kammy stood at the front of her crowd, shifting back and forth on her feet, not sure of what to say. Koopley noticed this and raised his goblet in the air.

"A toast!" he shouted. "To Kammy Koopa, the Queen of the Koopas!"

"To the Queen of the Koopas!" the army chanted back before tipping their heads back and downing their wine.

"The best entryways would be through the North Campus, between the clock tower and the library tower. Infantry A would come from the east, Infantry B from the west, with C supplying minimal air support from the towers."

Kammy and Erph were pouring over the maps of the school, the anxious noises of excitement surrounding them. Kammy was working with purpose. Her newfound title had given her exactly the burst of confidence she needed to carry out her attack. Queen of the Koopas…how exalted! With a little over a thousand of her own kind rallying together, surely the crystal ball didn't lie. Surely, it was Kamilia's destiny to win this war.

"Where is Koopley?" she asked, her head looking up from the maps and scanning the makeshift bunker. "He was to be one of my lieutenants. He needs to be preparing his squad."

"I haven't seen 'im since the toast, Missy," Erph replied, rubbing his sore eyes with his stubby little feet. "I'm sure he'll be back. He was almost more excited 'bout the attack than you were."

Kammy ran her claws through her platinum blonde hair, hoping that Erph was right. She needed Koopley. He knew the layout of this new Bycaster much better than she did. He was Grendel's assistant, he might've even known some secret passageways that could help tip the battle in their favor. He had become essential to her new army, and he needed to be back as soon as possible.

"In the meantime," the old Goomba continued. "What say you we concoct a Plan B?"

Kammy closed her eyes and shook her head slightly, clearing the cobwebs in her brain. She needed to focus; nobody was going to be getting a second shot at this, and she needed to protect her people. Grabbing two of the maps from the table, Kammy continued planning.

"Well, we know that the entire South Campus is decimated, so we don't need to strike there," she responded. "The Ashamed are attacking from the west, with a three or four small camps set up near the lake."

"They, of course, ain't the problem," Erph commented.

"No, they'll be picked off easily, if our plan works," Kammy said.

"The problem is the hornets' nest of a base they have 'cross Lake Peepcheep." Erph continued. "All of their weapons, vehicles, soldiers, and Stars are there. We can't possibly take that thing down on our own."

Kammy felt her claws form a tight fist. She used to live across Lake Peepcheep, just a few miles from the coast where the Ashamed had set up their new base. Rougeport. Once a beautiful, thriving metropolis, filled with the richest and the most famous, a high-end wonderland where everyone in Het Naamkaartje yearned to live…now reduced to a seedy pirate town. Everyone she knew, gone. All of the nostalgic places she held dear, decimated. The Ashamed didn't think twice about destroying her home and everything with it. They only wanted a place to set up their weapons, so that they could destroy even more.

"We'll find a way," she said, bitter determination in her voice. "They can't stay there. They won't."

Erph hesitated before asking, cautiously, "Missy? What's our Plan B?"

The young Queen blinked. Why was she getting so distracted?

"Yes, our Plan B," she continued. "Um…well, one of their camps is positioned right next to the -"

It happened that suddenly.

Kammy noticed her ears ringing first, a splitting headache accompanying it. She was somehow on the ground, bits of debris stuck on her face. She couldn't see for a moment, nothing but the brightest of lights. Slowly, very slowly, she began to make out shapes and figures, muffled voices and sounds. Then Kammy's senses came rushing back to her, and she was suddenly at war.

The ceiling and two of the walls of their bunker had been blown open by an explosion from outside. The Battle for Bycaster had made its way to her army (which now looked so damned small) significantly sooner than she had anticipated. She saw her soldiers running for their lives, completely discombobulated and chaotic. They needed their general.

Kamilia scanned the room for Erph, who had been knocked a few feet further than she. Aside from a few cuts and a large, purple bruise, he seemed alright.

"Erph!" she shouted over the deafening sounds of war. "Where's my broom?!"

"Hang the broom, Missy!" he barked back. "We need to strike now! What's your Plan C?!"

Plan C. Plan C? Of course she hadn't thought that far ahead. She had been filled with such optimism that she foolishly thought her first strike would work perfectly. She grabbed her hair in frustration, biting her lip, deep in thought.

There was another explosion. More screams from Kamilia's Koopa Army.


Kammy lowered her brows before grabbing Erph and running to her sentient bombs. They were all there, still inside the large, metal wagon. They were jittery, scared, one of them even turned a dark shade of purple for a moment or two. They were growing antsy, and Kammy needed to get them out of the gymnasium before they blew up her army.

"Hang on, Erph!" she shouted.

Very cautiously, she sat down at the front of the wagon, Erph sitting behind her, holding onto her waist with his feet for his dear, old life. Kamilia concentrated with all of her might, her eyes slowly closing. Each of the bombs must've weighed a ton, and there were dozens of them in that wagon. She not only needed to lift them all, but fly the wagon through the battle-torn sky, fast enough to evade enemy fire. Oh, and without turning Erph and herself into fireworks.

She tried to block out all of the shouts and screams of horror, the penalties of her destiny, as she felt the wagon lift off of its wheels and into the air. She could tell by Erph's tightening grip that the wagon was airborne, and she swallowed hard. This was the battle. This was it. There was no more to plan. No more time. This was the battle she had been preparing her entire life for.

"KOOPAS!" she ordered, watching as her entire army stopped their panicking and looked up at their Queen.

"You cannot be hurt! You cannot die! Not now!" she yelled. "Do not abuse this gift that I have given you!"

Some of the Koopas looked down at their bodies, bloodied and scarred, and realized…they felt no pain. There was a Koopa with a cracked shell that could not have possibly been mended by the greatest of doctors, and yet it was already starting to heal itself. Another soldier had shards of debris through his arm, but they were starting to shatter and fall to the ground, her arm without a scratch. None of them questioned; they only stood in position and waited for their general's next command.

"The Ashamed have come to our door!" the Queen of the Koopas shouted. "Let's greet them with death!"

The cheers and applause, battle cries and shouts, were explosive, enough to even block out of the sounds of bloody battle. And, as one single unit, they all burst through the fallen walls of the gymnasium, out of the only comfort they had felt since the bloody invasion, and stormed the battlefield. Kammy hovered above them, her eyes on her brave people, running to save their world from an evil no one else could possibly defeat.

But as they got closer to the lake, as they ran over fallen bodies and gory weapons, as a sudden burst of heat hit Kammy's face like a sucker punch, she saw the bloodthirsty looks slowly fall from her soldiers' faces. Upon looking up ahead, Kamilia Koopa knew why.

Lake Peepcheep was an enormous lake, connecting to the ocean by a series of small rivers. By boat, travelling at top speeds, it would take you maybe four and a half hours to travel from Rouge…Rogueport to Bycaster. A pond, it was certainly not. At first, the other side of Peepcheep seemed like a strange place to set up their base. Sure, they had the advantage of flying machines, but Het Naamkaartje had an enormous navy, with one of their largest naval bases stationed just outside of Bycaster. Not even their alien technology would've been able to last long against a fleet of hundreds of war ships.

But behind the towers…literally towers of bodies of fallen students and soldiers…The Ashamed had conquered Peepcheep, and transformed it into a literal hell. Flames spewing from the surface of the lake, the orange and red fires blinding her eyes, the smoke and ashes turning the clouds and sky a damnable maroon color.

Kamilia could feel Erph shaking behind her in fear, and the powerful bombs beneath her, her one ace in the hole, her plan to end the entire war, suddenly felt pathetically insignificant. The Ashamed Army had filled the entire lake with searing, bubbling lava.

What chance did they have?

In Chapter 23 of Something Wicked...

Kamilia is horrifically punished for a mistake she made in this very chapter.

The immortal Koopa Army stares death in the face.

The origin of another classic Mario villain.

Keep your mouse on the refresh button. We're getting to the good stuff.

(and by "good", I mean "really dark")