disclaimer: I don't own Nintendo except on Fridays. -- joke, don't sue me

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"Luigi!"

Luigi did not answer at first. He sat on his bed, turning the letter around and around as if it would somehow help. He hadn't even heard Mario call his name.

"Luigi!"

This time the yell was punctuated by a loud knock on the door. He jumped. Carefully but quickly, he folded up the letter and hid it under his plant pot. He never looked under there. Mario didn't trust plants.

It wasn't that Mario would be angry with him or hit him. Not Mario, the people's hero, champion of all that was good and just. Luigi just wasn't sure he could deal with his brother's feelings towards the matter as well as his own. Besides, he wasn't sure whether Mario would even understand why it was important. He didn't think about such trivial things any more.

He sighed and opened the door. His brother and superior was red-faced, out of breath. Something's happened, thought Luigi. He would never run that fast if there wasn't something wrong.

"Luigi, there's been a breakout at the central prison!"

Luigi raised one of his bushy eyebrows.

"And we have to go and deal with it?"

"It's the Central Prison, Luigi! Where all the most dangerous prisoners are kept! And there's a huge hole in the wall!"

"Can't the police sort it out by themselves?" suggested Luigi, yawning.

"Don't be like that!" snapped Mario, "We have a duty to perform! A reputation to maintain!"

"You're the boss." Luigi shrugged, sounding less than enthusiastic.

--

"They must have used a powerful weapon to create a hole this large." said Mario, peering through his craftsman's spyglass at the rubble that littered the floor underneath the gaping hole in the side of the prison building.

Ninten Empire's largest, highest security prison, situated in the desert just outside of Mushroom Kingdom, was a massive, foreboding building, a stone fortress with gates wrought of dark iron. Luigi could hear the barked orders of the guards and the rowdy protests of the prisoners as the prison staff desperately tried to restore order. Only one prisoner had managed to escape but almost the entire prison had tried to make a break for it. There were small riots starting everywhere and a few of the guards had been seriously injured trying to quell them.

Only one prisoner. But he had been in the highest security cell in the entire building, somewhere in the basement, in pitch darkness, behind a heavy door reachable only a stone staircase watched twenty four hours a day. If that cell could be breached, the entire prison's security was jeopardised.

"Maybe its Wario's work?" suggested Luigi, "Wario has some pretty heavy weaponry."

"Not THIS heavy." said Mario, "Look, they blasted through the ground into the lower floors. I think off-world technology did this, Luigi."

Luigi nodded listlessly. So now he's a detective as well as a master plumber, a retail pharmacist, a high jump champion, a race car driver, a Tv celebrity, a minor interplanetary dignitary and a bloody paladin. And here am I.

A failed apprentice.

"Luigi, is there something wrong?" asked Mario, looking up at him with those honest, open eyes. At least I'll always be taller than him. Not that it makes any bloody difference seeing as he can jump twice as high as me.

"Er..." stammered Luigi, "I... I'll tell you about it when we get back."

"That's the spirit! Get on with the job!" said Mario, clapping him on the back.

Luigi laboured for a few hours, picking up rocks and carefully moving them, keeping an eye on the few prisoners that wandered too close, making suggestions to back up Mario's endless wild theories. It depressed Luigi exactly how many enemies Mario thought he had. Then Mario's pager buzzed. He took one look at it and frowned, a confused look in his eyes.

"We're leaving."

"Already? But we've found out nothing!"

"There's nothing we can do." said Mario, "Emperor Ness recalled us. Looks like we've got the rest of the day off, brother."

Luigi shrugged and climbed into the back of their car.
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