Chapter 5: Helping Hands

Rogueport Docks

Mario woke up in Cortez's ship early in the morning; he roused all his friends and rushed off the ship, the others hot on his heels. However, when they came into the Plaza they were shocked to see Toadsworth, Luigi, all his friends from the Waffle Kingdom (Blooey the brown Blooper; Jerry the cherry Bob-Omb; Torque the Spike-Top mechanic; Hayzee the Crazee-Dayzee playwright; and Screamy the mysterious onion-ghost-thing), and a beautiful women waving them over from in front of the Inn.

"H- Hey bro." Said Luigi nervously after Mario's party forced him to come over to the group, instead of jumping down the sewer grates and going straight to the Thousand-Year Door. "P-please a-allow m-me t-t-t-to introduce, P-princess Éclair," with that Luigi held his hands out to the beautiful princess, and the reason for his nervousness.

She was as short as Mario, Asian, and wearing a long silk Kimono. "I am honored to meet you," she said politely to Mario and the others.

"I'm sorry but I'm-a-in a hurry and must be getting to the-a-sewers," said Mario rudely: one princess was enough for him to worry about these days.

"Oh right," said Luigi, "so you've gotten the last Crystal Star, right?"

"No!" shouted G-Yo, "That stupid ugly old hag of Bowser's stole it away! The no good rotten lousy-" he was cut off by Flurrie, sparing the exalted princess of the Yoshi kid's potty mouth.

"Yeah, now we totally gotta get the Thousand-Year Door to remark the map to show where she's taken the Opal Star, since we know she didn't, like, go back to Bowser's Castle," explained Goombella.

"Sounds exiting," said Éclair, "I hope you don't mind if I tag along for the show, do you?"

"Not at all!" said Luigi before Mario could respond, "we'll all go together!"

"Not me," sighed Toadsworth, he was disappointed that Mario hadn't brought the last Star back to save Peach; he excused himself and went back into the Inn. The others then processed to the Thousand-Year Door; Mario's party members chatted with Luigi's nonstop along the way. The green plumber himself talked with Éclair, but his brother was focused on getting to the Door and didn't participate in any of the conversations.

The Thousand-Year Door Chamber

The group turned the last corner and stopped dead in their tracks when they saw Bowser was already there, accompanied by Kammy, and six Koopa Troop soldiers.

"Bowser!" shouted Mario.

"Yep, it's me, and you're too late to stop me this time!" said Bowser, jumping up onto the platform, holding the Opal Star above his head. Although he didn't have the map, the light show immediately started, greatly surprising the heroes.

However, this light show was different: not only did Bowser's Crystal Star fly into the air, all of Mario's did so as well. The eleven Stars soared around the chamber, dazzling everyone there. Suddenly they all turned and flew up through the ceiling.

Bowser had been laughing triumphantly throughout the entire affair with his arms held above his head victoriously. But when the light show ended, he fell silent and turned to the Thousand-Year Door expectantly. Although the seven star symbols on the doors glowed – as did the additional four on the surrounding wall – the door remained closed, not even allowing passage to the Palace of Shadow.

"Huh?" said Bowser after a moment, "what a rip-off!" He jumped down from the pedestal and ran over to the doors, which he promptly started pounding on. "Come on stupid Door, OPEN UP!!!!!" he bellowed furiously.

Mario wasn't happy either, "give the Stars-a-back Bowser!"

"Jeez drain-brain, the Stars flew away, weren't you paying attention?" growled Bowser over his shoulder, "and people say I'm dense."

"Bring them-a-back, now!" shouted Mario, lunging towards the King of the Koopas. His troops sprang forward, but since there were only six of them, they were thoroughly thrashed by Mario in a matter of seconds. He even knocked Kammy off her broomstick with a single, anger-fueled fireball.

"Mario, wait!" shouted Goombella as the plumber started pummeling Bowser, who hadn't had enough time to turn around and defend himself. Luigi and the others winced as the two kicked, scratched, bit, flamed and elbowed each other. But empowered by his anger at being delayed from saving Peach, Mario soon had the Koopa King at his nonexistent mercy.

He was about to finish the battered Dragon-Koopa off when Goombella hopped in front of the plumber. "You can't kill him!" she shouted, "remember the Endangered Species Act? Bowser doesn't have the Stars so you wouldn't really be able to justify your actions to the authorities, and they'd lock you away!"

"I-a-hate the ESA!" shouted Mario, angrily lowering his flaming hands.

Goombella turned to Bowser smiling, but the Koopa just glared at her angrily, "why'd ya have to go and do that!?! Now I'll never get toilet-breath to break that law!"

"But he was gonna totally kill you!" said Goombella, flummoxed at Bowser's frustration.

"He's done it before! And thanks to you he'll do it again! I was so close to getting him locked away! I could taste the freedom!" moaned Bowser, licking his lips, before making a face, "er, maybe it was actually blood that I was tasting, but what's new?"

Before Goombella could respond to the king's candid comment, Toadsworth came running into the chamber.

"Master Mario! Old boy! There's a giant rainbow staircase rising into the sky! It just appeared! Come! You must see!" exclaimed the old Toad. The others quickly turned and followed him out of the room; and after one last look at the bruised and bloody Bowser, Goombella left too. After a moment, Bowser stiffly got to his feet and staggered over to Kammy, holding his pounding head.

"Hey, get up," he said poking his advisor, who remained oblivious to the world. Bowser growled and opened his mouth to flame her awake. But all that accomplished was making him dizzy, and he fell over unconscious thanks to his Mario-caused concussion.

Rogueport Plaza

Toadsworth had spoken the truth: there was indeed a large rainbow spiral staircase extending up from the hangman's platform. It twisted its way high into the air and at the top of it was a huge multi-coloured castle, floating in the sky. The Crystal Stars circled the staircase and the distant citadel, leaving long glittering trails behind them.

"Mamma-mia!" exclaimed Mario.

"Wow! The Rainbow Fortress," breathed Goombella, remembering the story Beldam told the group over in Glitzville.

"That's right!" called a voice from high in the sky. The group looked up to see Shadow Yoshi swoop into sight, followed by Mad Jack the Magikoopa, who was carrying Peach.

"MARIO!" she wailed, but she was still tied up and barely managed to squirm in Jack's grasp.

"Peach!" exclaimed Mario, shooting a massive fireball at Jack, who easily reflected it with a spell.

"Haha foolish human!" mocked Shadow Yoshi, "you'll never get the girl back that way! But I must thank you for opening up the Rainbow Fortress for me, I could have done it myself, but manipulating people to do my dirty work is so much fun!" With that he flew up beside the staircase with Mad Jack, eventually becoming nothing more than specks before disappearing into the fortress.

"Oh nooooo!" shouted Mario, running up the stairs. His loyal companions followed him, but Luigi lagged behind.

"Are you not going to help your brother?" asked Éclair.

"Uhhhh," said Luigi nervously.

"You were so brave in the Waffle Kingdom, I'm sure your brother could use your help," she said, behind her Luigi's friends sniggered – they knew how wrong she was.

But, inaccurate or not, Éclair's words gave Luigi the courage he needed to follow his brother. She may be dating the Chestnut King, but Luigi was determined to impress the beautiful princess, and he started up the staircase. His friends were surprised at his bravery, but followed him nonetheless as he hurried to catch up with the others.

Rainbow Fortress

After a long and tiresome hike that lasted long into the afternoon, Mario, Luigi and the other breathless heroes reached the giant castle in the sky. Flurrie and Blooey were the only ones unfazed by the journey, and they and the adrenaline-fueled Mario urged the others onto their feet. Then they entered the Rainbow Fortress.

It was very similar to the Crystal Palace, but without the glass, mirrors and Duplighosts in every room. The bright colours, although pretty, were also annoying to many party members, and as they made their way through the maze-like corridors, the group became more and more exasperated. Vivian didn't want a repeat of the previous night, and tirelessly tried to keep the peace.

She would have failed had the group not tracked down Shadow Yoshi as quickly as they did (having followed Peach's incessant calls for help). Mario busted open the final door to reveal a large room, with a sizeable window in the side opposite to the door. Shadow Yoshi stood in front of a large black treasure chest, not unlike the ones that the Shadow Queen used to imprison the Four Heroes long ago. Jack and the princess had been watching him mess with the lock from afar. But when the heroes showed up, all activity in the room ceased.

"Heh, I knew Peach's screaming would get you here quickly," sneered Shadow Yoshi, "but not quickly enough for you to stop me."

"He sounds like Bowser," muttered Koops. But when Shadow Yoshi threw open the chest, the Koopa immediately fell silent.

A sinister cackling spread through the room, and two white gloves rose out of the chest; as they grew in size Shadow Yoshi joined in their disembodied laughter. "Behold! Master Hand and Crazy Hand!" he said, "and behold your doom!"

Shadow Yoshi waved his arms forward and the demon Hands obeyed, flying towards Mario and the others. The 14 heroes leapt out of the way in all directions, and a frantic and chaotic battle commenced. Although they were more numerous, the heroes had a disadvantage over the Hands. They were very powerful, and since Shadow Yoshi was controlling them from the sidelines, the chaos of the fighting didn't confuse and disorient the demons like it did the others. Also, whenever one of the Hands was getting worn down, Mad Jack would heal it with his magic. It looked hopeless for the heroes, and Shadow Yoshi knew this.

He pulled back the Hands for a moment and laughed at the heroes who were all sweating and panting. "You'll never win," he sneered, grinning darkly.

"Yes we-a-will," said Mario, "and we-a-will continue-a-fighting until Peach is-a-free!"

"Oh really," said Shadow Yoshi, looking over at Peach. He then jumped over and snatched her from Mad Jack, pulling out a jagged dagger from a small scabbard the Magikoopa had been wearing. "Then I'll just have to eliminate that motivation."

"Nooooo!" shouted Mario, leaping towards Shadow Yoshi, but Master Hand grabbed him in mid air, and held the plumber firmly in its crushing grasp.

"Hahahaha!" cackled Shadow Yoshi, "Say 'goodbye' princess!"

"Ahhh!" she screamed closing her eyes as Shadow Yoshi brought the dagger down towards her neck.

Suddenly there was a blast of fire from the window and the blade flew from Shadow Yoshi's grasp. Everyone looked to see Bowser standing on the window ledge, Kammy floating on her broom beside him.

"Bowser!" shouted Peach, at this point she didn't care who was saving her, the fact that she was still alive was enough for her.

"That's right princess, as long as I'm here no one will harm you!" he said, puffing out his chest.

"Oh really?" snarled Shadow Yoshi, letting Peach drop onto the floor, "get 'em Jack!"

Jack sent a spell shooting towards Bowser, but Kammy countered it with a spell of her own before flying over to the other Magikoopa. "Mad Jack?" she gasped, "but you stink at offensive magic!"

"Your Jack might, but not me y'old bat, I'm from your Nega-Realm, see, and I'm the most dangerous thing around," said Jack haughtily.

"Enough talk! Get her!" ordered Shadow Yoshi.

"Yes, Your Highness!" said Jack, diving towards Kammy.

"'Your Highness'? How unoriginal," mocked Kammy as she dodged the younger Magikoopa's attack. The two then started a viscous duel; spells were flying everywhere as the two figures sliced through the air. Bowser had never seen Kammy go so fast, it seemed Jack inspired great contempt in the old witch. But he didn't let that distract him as he took on Shadow Yoshi himself.

Kammy had healed Bowser from his encounter with Mario in the sewers. She had then levitated him up to the fortress as he had left his Clown Car in Dark Land, and the Koopa Cruiser was washed up – out of gas – on a beach just outside Rogueport; effectively out of commission until his six soldiers could track down some fuel. Now, Bowser was ready and rearing to go, and since he wasn't fighting Mario he was confidant he could win. The others watched in awe at the two battles raging above them and on the other side of the room. Luigi was the first to come to his senses.

"C'mon guys!" he said, "while Shadow Yoshi's busy with Bowser we can get the Hands and free Mario!"

But it was easier said than done; Master Hand and Crazy Hand were capable of coordinating themselves, and they were still as powerful as ever. But the group managed to free Mario relatively quickly, and together they wore the demons down, slowly but surely.

Meanwhile, Kammy wasn't making any ground at all; neither she nor Mad Jack were landing any attacks. And she was old: there was no way she could keep up all this fancy flying for long, especially not after levitating Bowser up to the Rainbow Fortress. She wracked her brain on how to beat Jack. Her world's Jack was a great defensive artist, but he couldn't even kill a baby Goomba, much less give Kammy a run for her money.

Suddenly Kammy realized how to win. Since her world's Jack was a great defender, this opposite Jack must be a horrid defender. The only reason she hadn't finished him off was because he used his offensive spells to counter hers. If he couldn't counter, and he couldn't defend, he was toast. Kammy cackled as she sent out her most powerful spell: a large, green wave of energy.

"What!?!" exclaimed Jack, as he tried unsuccessfully to blast a hole in the wave. It racked over his body and he shouted in pain before falling to the ground unconscious, right on top of Shadow Yoshi.

"Hey!" shouted Shadow Yoshi angrily, shoving the comatose Magikoopa off his back. But the interference was enough for Bowser. He let loose a massive flare and scorched the Yoshi. He then ran up behind the flames and slashed at his foe, scratching and knocking out the villain in one move.

"Bwa ha ha ha! I WON!!!!!!" shouted Bowser, gleefully; he was so exited he had to restrain himself from jumping around in the air cheering – he would save that until he beat Mario.

"Yay!" said Peach, overjoyed that the vile Yoshi was defeated. Suddenly she was lifted into the air by Bowser.

"Well, let's get going, Peach!" he said, running around the ongoing fight between the hands and the 14 heroes. Peach blinked stupidly for a second, in all her excitement she had forgotten Bowser was her enemy. She had gotten him confused with his valiant Nega-Realm counterpart. But when he said 'Peach' instead of 'Peaches', the princess' mind was snapped back to reality.

"Mario!" she called as Bowser ran through the doorway (followed by Kammy). Mario heard Peach and followed her latest kidnappers out of the room.

"Wait!" yelled Luigi, but his brother paid him no heed and disappeared in the twisting tunnels of the Rainbow Fortress. "Oh no, what do we do now?' he moaned.

"Hey you sound like Koops!" said G-Yo, scandalized that the brother of 'The Great Gonzales' was such a wimp.

"Yeah, and that's not a good thing," agreed the scaredy-cat Koopa.

"As for what we do now," said Blooey, "we stay and fight!"

"And not dress up like Peach!" said Jerry.

"I don't think he was going to suggest that sweetie," said Ms. Mowz.

"I wouldn't put it past him," muttered Torque, still irked about Luigi's irresponsibility wrecking his go-cart.

"What does crossdressing have to do with fighting giant monster hands anyway?" asked Bobbery, having no knowledge about Luigi's unusual adventures in the Waffle Kingdom.

"When it comes to the green plumber, everything," said Screamy quietly.

"Does not!" snapped Luigi, in one of his rare moments of resolve.

"Enough! On the eve of a final performance, the actors do not bicker, we take the stage!" said Flurrie.

"I couldn't have said it better myself darling!" said Hayzee.

"But our lead actor isn't here," pointed out Vivian, maintaining the others' metaphor.

"So? We were there on all his adventures," said Goombella, "and Luigi and his friends had their own adventures too, and we can totally beat these Hands ourselves! Together!"

"Yeah!" shouted the others, lunging towards their enemies with renewed energy. In no time the Hands were battered and worn, their white-gloved selves tattered and dirty. The group then pushed them over to the chest and as they closed it, the demons were sucked into their prison once again.

The Rainbow Staircase

Unaware of his friends' triumph, Mario continued to pursue Bowser, Kammy (and Peach), catching up with them on the first bend of the staircase in the sky.

"Release Peach!" ordered Mario, but Bowser only laughed.

"After going through all that do you honestly think I'll give up so easily?" he sneered. However, it might have been in the Koopa King's best interests if he had surrendered. Kammy was worn out from her fight with Mad Jack, and Mario wrestled her broom out of her hands in no time, using it like a baseball bat to send the old Magikoopa flying into the distance and over the mountains.

"Kammy!" shouted Bowser. Peach – who was still being held firmly under his arm – thought she detected a hint of concern in the big Dragon-Koopa's voice.

Mario didn't hear it though, and took advantage of Bowser's distraction to pull the princess free of his grasp, and then blast him in the face with a fireball. Bowser grunted in pain and stumbled on the steep stairs. Mario charged and rammed the King of the Koopas in the stomach and he staggered over to the edge of the stairs.

"Nooo!" yelled Bowser, waving his arms around as he desperately tried to regain his balance, teetering on the brink of the stairway. But Mario took no pity on his enemy, and jumped on Bowser's face. The King of the Koopas lost his balance and screamed as he fell off the path. Plummeting through the centre of the spiral stairwell he flailed his limbs in a desperate attempt to catch hold of the pathway that curved around him, always out of reach.

Bowser braced himself as he smashed through the wooden hangman's platform, and crashed through the first level of the Rogueport Sewers, dropping into the Thousand-Year Door Chamber where he landed on the pedestal in front of the Door, shattering it, and lying lifeless on the broken slabs of rock.

Mario and Peach didn't know this, and neither did the others who caught up to them shortly after Bowser fell. Peach was very upset with Mario for killing Bowser again, and after he untied her she didn't even give him the usual 'thank you' kiss on the cheek.

But they didn't have time to argue long as the stairwell started shaking and rumbling (as a result of Bowser destroying the pedestal). The group decided it was best to get back to ground before the stairwell destroyed itself so they ran as fast as they could. There was a couple times when the stairwell fazed out of reality for a moment and the group dropped through space, landing on the next level down once the stairway reappeared. Miraculously they made it to the splintered gallows before the stairs disappeared in the evening sky for good, as did the Rainbow Fortress.

The eleven Crystal Stars still sailed through the air, then one by one they exploded in a shimmering fireworks display. The people of Rogueport 'ooed' and 'awed' as the Diamond, Emerald, Gold, Ruby, Sapphire, Garnet, Crystal, Amethyst, Topaz, Silver and Opal Stars released their energy and rained it down on the city. People all over the land watched, from Keelhaul Key to Astroville, from the Great Tree to Blaarg Volcano; even TEC on the moon monitored the light show, glad that Peach was safe.

But as the heroes gazed up in the sky, they saw a dark shadow flying down from the heavens. It was Shadow Yoshi and Mad Jack. "Mark my words I'll have my revenge!" shouted Shadow Yoshi, "one day you will all be my evening meals!"

"That's totally gross," said Goombella.

"And stupid! You're a disgrace to Yoshis everywhere!" jeered G-Yo, before spouting off a whole slew of profanity. And for once, Vivian and Flurrie let him have his freedom of speech.

Shadow Yoshi growled and flew out of sight, followed by Mad Jack, who flashed the group a rude hand gesture as he disappeared. The heroes didn't care and cheered at their hard-fought victory. Their crazy adventure had finally come to an end.

Rougeport Docks

The group had had a good night's sleep and woke early next mourning to reports of the disablement of the Thousand-Year Door. Because Bowser had smashed the podium, not only had the Crystal Stars become unstable and disappeared, but the Rainbow Fortress and Palace of Shadow were also cut off from the 'real' world forever. Since the Stars were destroyed, Vivian and the others figured the Shadow Queen also ceased to exist, something they weren't overly sad about. Also, Mario's magic map went blank when the Stars' existences ended, so he gave it to Frankly who stashed it away in case he could one day get it to work again.

The Nega-Realm wormhole had also disappeared, and losing the Shadow Queen's old haunts wasn't much of a price to pay to be rid of Shadow Yoshi, and to have Peach back safe and sound.

But, she and the others were still weary from the whole ordeal, and Peach suggested a vacation. Mario, however, was less than enthusiastic, since every 'vacation' they ever took had been turned into a calamity by Bowser.

"How about you come to the Waffle Kingdom?" suggested Princess Éclair, "you could technically say it is a diplomatic visit to strengthen foreign affairs with a far away country. And besides, I do not think Bowser knows enough to bother you in my land."

"Oh! What a wonderful Idea!" exclaimed Peach happily; but on the inside, she was sad. She wondered about Bowser: he had disappeared from the Thousand-Year Door Chamber without a trace, and she was worried about him. Her time with Nega-Bowser taught Peach to look at people differently – as he had said, they weren't black and white. And although this world's Bowser was a fairly dark grey, Mario wasn't all that light. Peach had heard stories from his partners, like the incident with the Baby Blaargs; and she had seen it herself: Mario didn't need to push Bowser off the stairs, but he did so in anger; it was senseless violence. Maybe Mario wasn't Peach's true love after all…

Of course, the mismatching couldn't have been as bad as Luigi's one-sided love for Princess Éclair.

As the group got ready to board Éclair's ship, Goombella and the others came onto the docks. "We're ready to go!" said the plucky little Goomba girl. She couldn't wait to learn more about the onion-ghosts from Screamy.

The others had also made new friends. Jerry had become a big fan of Bobbery, who in turn had become friends with Blooey, his fellow sea-being. Also, the three of them were planning on teaching Koops to be more brave, something Koopie Koo was quite enthusiastic of – so enthusiastic they decided to let her tag along too.

Hayzee and Flurrie had unsurprisingly hit it off, and were planning to go into big business together, with or without Doopliss' participation. G-Yo and Torque had a lot in common as well, both being the little guys with fire in their bellies. Vivian was glad G-Yo had gotten himself a new friend, even if she hadn't. But as always, she was happy just to be with her old pals. Ms. Mowz hadn't gotten any new amigos either, but the prospect of going to a new land filled with new treasures and badges was enough for her.

And of course, wherever Peach went Toadsworth went; and Luigi would follow Éclair to the ends of the Mushroom World, so naturally they were coming too.

As the group boarded the ship, Éclair told them there was one more guest on her way. After a couple minutes the group heard footsteps on the gangway, and turned to see Princess Daisy stepping over the railing.

"Hi!" she said, smiling. Luigi almost fainted: both girls he liked, on one ship. He didn't know if it was his worst nightmare, or his dream come true.

The ship blasted its horn and pulled out of the harbour. The group looked behind them as the beginning place of their last adventure grew smaller and smaller on the horizon. Before turning away, and embracing the adventure to come.

'Peach' Interlude #6

The Nega-Realm

Shadow Yoshi hadn't said a word on the entire flight back to the wormhole. Once they were though he ordered Mad Jack to seal the portal, and he did as he was told. They flew over the dark and gloomy land as the orange sky hung stagnantly overhead. Ruling Mario's technicolour world would have been great, and the Rainbow Fortress' colours blew Jack away; but now, they both were lost to the villains forever.

Shadow Yoshi flew down to his castle and whooshed past the guards Jack followed behind, until he was suddenly jumped from behind and shoved into a magic-proof bag. He tried to yell for help but his voice was muffled and his master took no notice of his absence.

Shadow Yoshi coasted into the Throne Room and landed heavily on his silver chair. He called for the servants to bring him a Barbecued Goomba, and asked for his wife and kids to assemble in the room. But all that came was a hoard of assorted Koopas, Toads, and various other creatures.

"What's all this!?" shouted Shadow Yoshi angrily, trying to get up, but he couldn't: he was stuck to his throne. "What's going on!?!"

"A revolution is going on, that's what," growled a familiar voice. Nega-Bowser stomped out from the shadows; with him were Shadow Yoshi's family, in chains. "Ya see, we're tired of the way you've been treating us, and we figured it's time for a change."

The other creatures murmured their agreements, Shadow Yoshi was furious and shot his green tongue at Nega-Bowser, who caught it and held it taught.

"Oh no, you'll never get me that way," sneered Nega-Bowser, before releasing the squirming tongue. "Your time has come and gone, and now we will rule you, in a glorious new order."

The people around Nega-Bowser cheered. He smiled, wherever you are Peaches, I did it, I've started that rebellion, and now I'm free.

Bowser Interlude #6

Rogueport Sewers

Bowser's world spun; he was sore all over, his mind kept slipping in and out of blackness. He hated dying. But eventually his senses started returning, he felt himself being dragged across the floor. The cobblestones racked at his scaled flesh, he groaned at the discomfort.

He stopped moving, he heard urgent whispering. A male and female voice, but he couldn't identify who they were, and he hurt too much to open his eyes. He heard more whispering; the female voice was very familiar, and very unsettling. Suddenly the near silence was pierced by an extremely loud noise: a chain saw, right beside Bowser's ear.

The Dragon-Koopa's eyes flew open and he looked up to see Toodles and a yellow chicken-thing standing above him. The chicken was holding the chainsaw.

"Ahhh!" screamed Bowser, jumping away from the saw.

"Yo!" said Rawk Hawk, "I'm not doin' this now that he's awake! No way! I'm not gettin' flattened again!" He turned off the saw and set it down on the ground beside Toodles, before he walked away.

"Grr," hissed Toodles, "who need's him?" she bent over and picked up a large axe. She grinned like a maniac at Bowser, who was still a little dazed from his most recent death experience and hadn't quite come to terms with reality yet. "Now your horns will be mine!" She then lunged for the King of the Koopas with a Xena-the-Warrior-Princess-esque war cry.

This brought Bowser to his senses and he jumped out of the way of the axe. "Ahhh!" he screamed as he ran for the exit. Followed closely by Toodles. After a frantic chase he found his way out of the sewers and made a beeline to the beach. He rounded the last bend in time to see his fully fueled Koopa Cruiser taking off without him.

Bowser moaned – he had told his lackeys to move the Cruiser as soon as they could, and to go back to Dark Land and pick up any more fighting-fit troops. Now he was stranded. Suddenly there was a whoosh and Toodles' axe embedded itself in the wooden post Bowser had been leaning against. He turned around to see the crazed Toad woman running at him, shrieking at the top of her petite lungs.

Had Bowser not just recovered from a 100-story fall, he would have finished off the pest right there and then. But as it was, his head was pounding, he was sore all over and felt a bit nauseous. Any attempt to breathe fire would probably result in an entirely different form of projectile. So, Bowser just sighed and ran away back to town.

He was about halfway there when a shadow flew down from above. "Need a lift, Your Resurrectedness?" asked Kammy, who was using her jeweled wand to control the Clown Car.

"Yes," said Bowser, masking his happiness at seeing his advisor alive and well. Kammy brought the Car lower to the ground and Bowser vaulted into it. Speeding away into the sky.

Beneath him Toodles fell to her knees in despair, "NOOOOOOOO!!!!!! I NEEEEEED YOUR HOOORRRRNNNNSSSSSS!!!!!!!!! I NEEEEEEEEED THEMMMMM!!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!"

Bowser chuckled, before wincing as his head throbbed worse than before.

"Oh, let me help you with that, Your Sufferingness," said Kammy, resting her wand on Bowser's forehead.

The pain immediately went away all over his body; Bowser nearly sighed with relief, "thanks Kammy."

"Your welcome, Your Gratefulness."

"Don't push it."


"Whatever… So anyway, I was thinking," started Bowser, now that the pain was gone he was thinking clearly again, "we need a vacation; just me, and you, and the kids, and maybe a couple soldiers, just to be safe."

"Oh, that sounds great!" exclaimed Kammy, touched that Bowser wanted to take her along too.

"Yeah," he continued grinning, "and I've got the best place in mind too. A far away country where Mario couldn't possibly bother us, I'm not even sure he knows about it at all."

"Oh, really, Your Cautiousness, where?"

"The Waffle Kingdom!"

The End