Disclaimer: I do not own the Mario series, or any of Nintendo's trademarked people, places and things; I do own a couple characters and the plot, however. This stands for the entire story, so I'm only saying it once.
Author's Note: This is the third and final installment of my Super Koopa trilogy. There will be no sequels. Therefore, I hope this story will live up to its hype and prove an enjoyable and memorable read. This prologue is really long, and mostly exposition, I'm afraid, as it covers a period in time ignored by my earlier stories (it would have just confused them and taken some of the thunder away from this one at the same time). I've retconned a lot of stuff from the original publication of Super Koopas, so if you read it when it first came out, a few things here might seem inconsistent. And for that, I apologize.
Rated T for violence, language, mature themes and character death.
Super Koopa World
Despite her inclination towards secrecy, the story of Bowselta, Queen of the Koopas, soon became common knowledge. She grew up as a notorious thief and plotted to kill Prince Bowser Koopa, only to fall in love with him instead. They had eight children and led the Koopa Kingdom through its glory days. Then it all came crashing down.
Bowser wanted to prove he was as good a king as his legendary father, the late King Morton Koopa, and Bowselta simply wanted to slaughter the enemies of the Koopas, so that they alone could rule the world. Some say there were other factors at work as well, but whatever the reason, the Koopa Troop invaded the peaceful Mushroom Kingdom in the summer of 1989. It was an easy conquest, but they were soon driven back by a pair of plumbers known as the Mario Bros., who Bowser's Chief Advisor, Kamek Koopa, had predicted would be the end of the Koopa Kingdom long ago.
Stubborn and proud, Bowser and Bowselta did not give up, and the Koopa Troop marched into countless unwinnable battles for the next year and a half. Then, in an effort to discover the origins of the humans and, supposedly, a way to banish the Mario Bros. from the Mushroom World, Bowselta got herself sucked through an interdimensional portal to the native realm of the humans, Earth. It took her three years to get back, during which time, Bowser became the laughing stock of the realm.
The King of the Koopas had been heartbroken by his wife's disappearance, and after a few months of futile searching, Bowser gave up any hope of seeing her again. It was a tragic and piteous story to say the least, but when Bowser tried to drown his sorrows with Princess Peach Toadstool's love, the sympathy turned to ridicule. Some found the Koopa King's crush on the Mushroom Princess romantic, others thought it was cute but hopeless, and many were downright disgusted by it. But it made no difference to Bowser. Deaf to the nay-sayers, he kidnapped Peach around the clock; sometimes it was as simple as breaking down the door and taking her back to his castle twice a week, but other times he crafted elaborate plots to try and foil her intrepid saviours, Mario and Luigi.
Getting to know the Koopa King, Peach realized he wasn't so bad a person as she had originally thought, and while she never returned his affection, she tried her best to make friends with Bowser and forge peace between their kingdoms.
Everyone knows this never happened.
Everyone knows Bowselta soon returned and banished all thoughts of the princess from her husband's mind.
Everyone knows she then defeated the Mario Bros. and took over not only the Mushroom Kingdom, but Sarasaland as well. But it did not last long: Kamek Koopa, who always hated the queen, kidnapped the eight Koopalings in hopes of luring their parents into a deadly trap. Kamek's plans also failed, however, for Bowselta anticipated her defeat at the hands of the normally-heroic Kongs that Kamek had brainwashed into fighting the Koopas, and had no choice but to retrieve the Mario Bros. In return for their aid in rescuing the Koopalings, the Koopas had to return all their conquered lands, but the truce was short-lived.
Everyone knows the next few years were plagued with Koopan attacks as Bowselta furiously tried to reclaim the Mushroom Kingdom, only to lose her own soldiers by the hundreds. Finally, in 1996, the invasions ceased. The Koopalings had been sucked into an alternate reality of their own, and narrowly escaped death at the hands of King Morton Koopa, who had survived and conquered the world beyond the Magic Mirror. Disillusioned with his legendary yet heartless father, and afraid of the corruption that comes with ruling the world as he had in the other dimension, Bowser's own aspirations cooled. Bowselta never lost her thirst for revenge against the humans, but was willing to set her aspirations aside for the time being and focus on rearing her children. The Mushroom World entered a time of peace, and everyone believed the tumultuous time of the King and Queen of the Koopas had come to an end.
All of this is public knowledge. All of this is documented. All of this is retold time and time again by Koopas, Mushroomians and beyond.
But this is not the full story.
The truth is, during his wife's absence, Bowser never gave up hope. Somewhere, deep down inside him, he knew Bowselta was alive, and even as he strived to make Peach love him, he was still thinking of his long lost queen, and where she might be hiding. It all came into sharp relief during one of Bowser's stranger adventures: he travelled through multiple dimensions with the Mario Bros., saved the universe from being destroyed in an all-encompassing Void, and was even forcibly wed to Peach. She dismissed the marriage as nothing, and while Bowser knew she was right, he had a good time of pretending they were husband and wife for a short while. Then, a month after he returned from the whole affair, he was blasted out of his castle window and during his subsequent coma, he relived his time with his real wife, Bowselta. Only then did he recall her fascination with the human origin story – of two boats that sailed through a portal from another universe and laid claim the to the Mushroom World, destroying everyone who opposed them with their black magic weaponry. In the past, he had never quite grasped what she had been researching, but having spent a few weeks tromping through countless dimensions himself, Bowser realized that his wife had been right. He knew then that she was in the human world, waiting to be rescued.
- Antarctica, Earth; December, 1993 -
"I love penguins."
"Yes, you keep saying that," growled Wendy, reclining on her heated lawn-chair, basking in the never-setting Antarctic summer sun.
Lemmy scowled at his sister before letting out a wistful sigh. "I wish there were penguins here. It's soooo boring."
"Maybe if you hadn't been such a wuss and helped us fight Luigi, you wouldn't be so bored," smirked Iggy, who was perched upon his own lawn-chair, but shielded from the UV-spewing sun by an umbrella.
"Yeah, you should've just stayed home and guarded the castle with Junior and Kamek," added Wendy.
"I wanted to play in the snow," whined Lemmy.
"It wouldn't've mattered anyway," growled Roy, limping up to his siblings from the distant castle. "Dat little worm ain't fightin' fair – it's like I couldn't hurt 'im!"
"So you got thrashed, in other words," sneered Wendy.
"Vat's Luigi doing now?" asked Ludwig, looking a little worried. "Zee only sing standing betveen him and Mario at zis point is Fazzer."
"Yeah, da jig's pretty much up. Luigi was still wanderin' around looking fo' anyting he missed – or da way to Mario or whateva – when Kammy sent me out here, but he's gonna get ta Mario and Pops any minute now."
"Then he'll be sorry he ever messed with us," grinned Lemmy.
"No, Pop'll be da one who'll be sorry – haven't you been payin' attention ta what any of us've been sayin', meat-head?"
"Yeah," said Morton, taking over for Roy. "Luigi's pretty much invincible around here – it's really weird. Or maybe our powers are just shot in this dimension: you know the old legends about the 'black magic' of the human world. We're totally aliens here, whereas Luigi's ancestors came from Earth. Or at least some of them did – I read a few of Mum's books about the invasion, and there were only a couple hundred humans between the two ships. And they were all dudes. They bred with the native humans. There are only a few purely Mushroomian human families left, actually – you know, the ones with pointy ears. Like Wario and Waluigi; but there's lots over in the isolated Waffle Kingdom. Though some scientists say a few races of the Mushroomian humans had rounded ears like the Earth humans, and-"
"Okay, okay, enough of the boring history lesson, Morton: we do not need to be preached to about human pedigrees, thank you very much," drawled Wendy, adjusting her sun-glasses.
"Well, even if you guys had trouble with Luigi, maybe King Dad'll have better luck…" said Lemmy. "He is a lot more powerful than us, so even if his powers are lessened, it won't make as much of a difference as it did for you guys."
"Nope. You're wrong – he's gonna go down as hard as we did," said Roy, shaking his head. "Dat's why Kammy sent me out here – we're gearing up ta leave. As soon as Luigi trashes Pops, we're flying da castle back 'trough da portal. All da Koopa Troopas have been recalled: everyone's inside but us."
"So it's all over? All that work for nothing?" said Larry, who had been building snowmen off to the side and quietly listening to the conversation.
"Psh, like anyone expected this cockamamie plan to actually work," laughed Wendy bitterly. "Melting Antarctica with hairdryers? What was Daddy thinking? He deserves to lose."
"How can you say that?" gasped Lemmy.
"I'm sorry to say, but she has a point," sighed Ludwig. "Zee whole point of trying to take over Earsz vas because he figured Mario vouldn't get involved, vitch, in itself, vas a flawed szeory. Mario helps everyvone vee go up against, and Fazzer should have known a plot zis contrived vould leak to zee Mushroomians."
"Yeah, but he managed to capture Mario, at least," said Lemmy. He hadn't been part of the fighting this time around, but he hated to see his father's plans picked apart by his fellow Koopalings.
"We should've tried baiting him with drugged candy a long time ago," grinned Larry. Sedating Mario had been Larry's idea, and Iggy had whipped up the potion.
"Yeah, but King Dad should've known to capture Luigi and Yoshi as well," said Iggy. "I made enough tranquilizer for a whole army of Mushroom Kingdom creeps."
"Like Daddy could've tricked them all into eating it – the only reason Mario fell for the trap is because he's a fat old pig," sneered Wendy.
"Okay fine," moaned Lemmy. "So it wasn't the best plan in the world-"
"More like the worst," snorted Wendy. "Even if Mario, Luigi and freaking Yoshi hadn't come running after us, why didn't he just take over this world like he tries to take over ours?"
"Actually, Pop has some valid reasons fo' dat," said Roy. "For one 'ting, it'd be too hard ta bring an invasion force large enough ta take over dis world 'trough da portal. It's like Warp Pipe warfare – small groups only. Or in dis case, one castle filled wid troops only."
"Nicely put," said Iggy sarcastically. Roy growled: he hated grammar snobs.
"Why can't we bring a bunch of troops through warp fields, again?" asked Morton. "I mean, I know regular Warp Pipes are sorta small and it'd be hard to cram an army through one, but if we could fit one castle through the portal, why not a bunch of them?"
"It puts too much strain on da inner workins o' da portals if ya bring lotsa stuff 'trough," said Roy, who was an expert in all things tactical. "I dunno exactly why dough – you'd need ta ask Iggy about da sciency details."
"Uhhh… You'd have better luck asking Kamek, actually," said Iggy sheepishly as Morton turned to him expectantly. "He's an expert on Warp Pipes and everything else even remotely related to them. He was even the one who figured out how to convert the warp fields for interdimensional travel based on the readings he took from whole Flip-Flop Incident. I asked him to explain it all once, and it gave me a major headache."
"Aww, poor you," jeered Wendy.
"Let's get back on-topic, shall vee?" cut-in Ludwig, rolling his eyes.
Roy nodded. "Da portal problem is besides da point, really: even if we got da troops 'trough, engaging da humans would be a bad idea. Da Koopa Troopas we dispatched have gotten some good looks at deir technology, and it's way beyond anyting we've got. Tink of it: Lakitus versus supersonic jets; airships versus ballistic missile submarines; bullet-bills versus nuclear bombs. Face it, we'd be screwed."
"That's why were hiding down here in Antarctica – where no one will look for us," grinned Morton.
"Except the spy satellites," muttered Larry, eyeing the clear blue sky mistrustfully. None of the other Koopaling heard him, however, as Morton had spun off on another rambling rant about the territorial divisions of Antarctica, and how their location (east of the northern reaches of the Pensacola Mountains), was an ideal location – far from any Antarctic human bases (or any coastal-dwelling penguins).
"Actually, zat's anuzzer sing zat's been bozzering me about zis plan," said Ludwig after a moment, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.
"What is?" asked Morton, abruptly ending his speech.
"Vell, if vee're in Antarctica to hide, sending our forces out to steal prominent landmarks is razzer counter-productive, dontcha sink?"
"Dey're not bringing da loot back, so da humans shouldn't tink ta look down here," said Roy with a shrug.
"Sure, until vee start melting zee ice: zen zey'll ice us."
"It'll take a while before the ecological effects start taking place," said Iggy. "Maybe King Dad figured we could get a strong enough hold down here to weather a human attack by the time they find us."
"And yet he hasn't brought any more forces srough. Zee portal could transport a shipload of soldiers a day, at zee very least, but vee are still vizzout backup."
"Maybe he realized the plan's a dud," suggested Iggy. "Like what Roy was saying about how we'd get thrashed no matter how much backup we had. Not to mention the fact that the whole melting-the-ice-with-hairdryers plan wouldn't work anyway. The logistics just don't support it."
"Maybe dat explains why he didn't even try ta sell da treasures befo' Luigi took 'em back: he knew it was useless," said Roy.
"They don't even ship hairdryers to Antarctica," added Wendy.
"You what King Dad should've done if he wanted to melt this place?" chirped Morton. "He should've brought some dragons through the portal instead of a castle. Like those three Rogueport-area dragons, the 'Tails. They got Bonetail out of the Pit of 100 Trials, ya know, and the three have been wandering around causing havoc in lotsa little Mushroomian towns. They're always being hounded by the authorities, so if we offered them a safe haven. They'd totally take it and-"
"Or he could've used spells or potions," interrupted Ludwig. "But no, he vent vit unfeasible, unobtainable human technology. Most of us suspected zee plan vas folly before vee even set out, and vonce vee got a good look at vat vee vere up against…" Ludwig trailed off: he was preaching to the choir – everyone knew the plan was doomed long ago.
Roy nodded his agreement. "We shoulda left days ago, instead of waiting fo' Luigi ta complete his little quest."
"Maybe Luigi's just an excuse," said Lemmy. "You know how much King Dad hates looking stupid – even if he knew his plan was a failure, he wouldn't want to go home and admit that."
"Especially after all the trouble Kamek and the other researchers went through to create a working interdimensional portal," said Iggy, nodding.
"But if we go home after Luigi's been through with us, King Dad doesn't have to admit his plan couldn't have worked even if the Mario Bros. hadn't shown up," finished Lemmy, grinning.
"Yeah, King Dad loses to them all the time, so it'd be no less embarrassing than all his other defeats. Except for the wasted technology stuff Iggy mentioned. And the fact that it's Luigi – well, Luigi and Yoshi – but that's sorta a stupid reason for it to be more embarrassing. Luigi's not as brave as Mario, true, but he's still a skilled fighter and an accomplished 'hero' and he's part of a good half of Mario's adventures and massacres and whatnot. Anyway, losing to him shouldn't be shameful. Why, the fact we captured Mario at all is a huge achievement, and I wouldn't be surprised if King Dad brags about that when we get home to offset the discontented mutterings within the populace that will surely-"
"Ugh, be quiet already," sighed Wendy.
"Like that ever works," smirked Iggy.
Morton scowled, but he knew making a verbal retort would be pointless, and so remained silent.
After a moment, Larry spoke up. "Umm… Shouldn't we go inside…?"
Roy slapped his forehead. "I totally fo'got about dat!"
"You suck as an errand-boy, Roy," grinned Wendy, stretching as she sat up on her chair.
"Heh, that rhymed," chuckled Morton to himself.
"I ain't no errand-boy," snarled Roy, smiling cheekily. "So I'm glad I'm bad at it."
"That's nice," said Wendy. "Hey, wouldja mind carrying my chair back for me? I just did my nails."
The smile disappeared from Roy's face. "I say again: I ain't no errand-boy. Besides, I'm still aching from my fight wid Luigi."
"All right," sighed Wendy. "Howabout you, Ludwig? …Ludwig?"
The eldest Koopaling didn't hear Wendy's request – he was deeply absorbed in thought. He stared blindly at a spot in the snow, mulling over every detail of Bowser's plot, and everything else that could possibly mean something. The plot would never have worked: even Bowser would've known that before setting out. It was a lot of trouble just to try and get away from the Mario Bros.' meddling, but if that was the case, the events should have been kept secret. It was a big operation to say the least, but if the Koopa Kingdom wanted to keep something from the Mushroomians, they could, no matter how humoungous it may be. No, someone let something slip on purpose, but who? And why?
Maybe Junior? He wasn't too happy about being left out of the mission. Bowser said it was because Junior had been at his side for most of the things he had done as of late, and that it was his siblings' turn. That much was true – Roy, Iggy and many of the others were getting frustrated with their little glory-hog of a brother – but there was a reason Bowser hadn't let the older Koopalings fight…
Ludwig's eyes widened as it dawned on him. Without even turning around to face his siblings, he whispered a single word: "Muzzer."
"What?" frowned Wendy, having barely heard the revelation.
Ludwig turned to face his sister; the other Koopalings were a few steps beyond her and hadn't heard anything at all. All were peering at their eldest brother expectantly. Ludwig smiled wryly, "I said-"
The Koopalings all jumped as an explosion from the castle echoed across the snowfields. They turned just in time to see a dark shape fly out of the fortress and soar though the air – directly towards them.
"It's gonna hit us!" cried Iggy in alarm, dropping his folded lawn-chair and umbrella. The Koopalings all started running in every which way, screaming and pointing as the object got closer and closer, and ploughed into the ground a few paces away from the young Dragon-Koopas.
As the snow settled, the children gasped: the projectile had been Bowser, who was now flash-frozen into a block of ice.
"What the hell?"
"That bastard human!"
The Koopalings rushed forward, chattering as much as Morton (except Larry, who was as silent as ever). But before they could reach their father, the ominous sound of cracking ice filled the air. Jagged fractures were appearing in the ice, destabilizing the solid block.
"Shit!" hissed Iggy.
"What?" demanded Wendy.
"If King Dad's frozen all the way through, and that ice cube starts to shear, it could splinter him into pieces as well."
"What?" repeated Wendy. "That's ridiculous."
"Maybe not," said Ludwig, all thoughts of his mother (and the conspiracy of his father's latest plot) banished from his mind by the matter at hand. "Dragon blood's funny like zat – it can burn and it can freeze – and zus, freeze zee entire person solid. Fazzer's a Near-Immortal so zat vouldn't kill him-"
"But if his shell's cracked, all bets are off," said Iggy rapidly, jutting out his hand. "Look!"
Once of the chunks of ice surrounding Bowser's shell had shifted, and while the Koopalings couldn't perceive the damage it had done to the shell directly, they could see a trickle of liquid light escaping into the Antarctic air.
"Oh, Koopa, we're too late!" gasped Wendy.
"It's just like when he fell outta the window!" cried Morton, excitement filtering through the horror. "Y'know, last month, when Mario-"
"He needs Healing Potion," said Ludwig, cutting across his brother. "Lemmy, you're zee fastest at crossing zee snow, go find Kammy!"
"Me?" gasped Lemmy, staring at Ludwig in horror. "But I-"
"Go you idiot!" squealed Wendy, who was hopping from foot to foot and biting her nails as she stared up at Bowser's frozen and fractured face.
Snapping out of his hesitation, Lemmy took off, not even turning around, instead running forward to move his ball (rather than having to backpedal his legs to roll forward, like usual) – it was faster that way. Swiveling his helpfully long, mutated neck, Lemmy peered over his shoulder and saw Koopa Troopas pouring out of the castle in confusion. "King Dad's up there!" he bellowed as he neared the door, pointing in the direction he had come from. He could see flashes of fire amongst the hilltop figures that were his family, but he didn't pause to wonder what his siblings were up to as he plunged through the door – helpfully held open by some of the Koopas.
"Kammy!" wailed Lemmy bouncing up the stairs. "Where's Kammy? I need Kammy! Help! Kammy!"
"What do you mean he's been fired out of a canon? Why am I only hearing about this now!" the old witch's voice was coming from Bowser's room. Lemmy burst through the door, finding Kammy surrounded by a swarm of confused Koopas.
"Kammy! Help! King Dad is-" Lemmy was cut off as Kammy's broom handle scooped him off his ball. She already had her broomstick out, and the second she saw Lemmy's face, she knew why he was looking for her.
Kammy snaked through the air over the swarming Koopas and blasted open the door. Lemmy held on to the broom for dear life, relaying his information about Bowser to Kammy at the top of his lungs. They soared out into the open air and headed straight for Bowser. A hoard of Koopas were now helping to hold the lower pieces of ice steady as the Koopalings melted part of the ice, exposing the back of Bowser's shell, where the energy was spilling into the sky.
"Brilliant!" cried Kammy in relief as she swooped overhead and stopped right above the melted portion, the flask of golden-green Healing Potion already in her hands. She poured it directly onto Bowser's shell, and the evaporation of his energy immediately ceased.
It had all happened so fast. Luigi had reached Mario, and Bowser had come to stop him. Then the green plumber pulled a switch and Bowser had dropped into a cannon, which promptly fired him out of the castle. The air was blistering as Bowser tumbled through the sky; he had been blasted out of cannons before, but the ending was unlike anything he had experienced. For an instant it was freezing cold – so cold, Bowser imagined his blood must have frozen because he couldn't even move. And then white hot pain, like burning swords were slicing through Bowser's body – from the top of his head to the tip of his tail, and everywhere in between.
And then blackness.
Then, slowly, Bowser could see things in the dark. Circular walls caked in slime and arching over a river of sludge filled with all matter of disgusting, floating lumps. There were thin strips of flat ground on either side of the liquid; these were covered in festering waste as well, upon which scampering Earth rats were feasting. He could hear dripping water, the rumbling of distant subways, and the murmur of the streets above the manholes. Bowser floated above it all; he had no body, and yet he still experienced the sights, sounds and, unfortunately, smells of the sewers like he was really there.
Bowser didn't know where he was or why he was there – moments earlier he had been in Antarctica, so did he go through a portal? But then where was his body? The last time his consciousness slipped away, he took a walk through memory lane, not a float through a putrid human sewer he knew for a fact he had never visited in real life. He drifted through the noxious air like a ghost, unable to direct his movement. He could feel heat now, and hear muffled voices, though he knew they weren't coming from the sewers, but from reality. He could feel the burning pain, the trickling blood, and yet he was still not in his body, but wafting through one of the walls – a wall not like the others.
He was in a passage, and there was a golden light shining around the next bend. Bowser could feel his heart beating, bright light was filtering into his consciousness, but suddenly, he realized he couldn't leave now – or return – or whatever was happening to him. Blinking against the suffocating white light, Bowser strained, willing himself around the corner, but going no faster.
No, thought Bowser as a disembodied voiced called him back. Not yet – I have to see.
"No!" the Koopa King jerked upright, nearly smashing face-first into Kammy, who had been bending over him, pulling his wandering mind back with an ancient incantation.
"Your Aliveness! We were so worried!" Kammy beamed at her king, as did the Koopalings, who clambered forward, chattering and grabbing at Bowser. He felt their claws, and heard their voices, and smelt the blood clinging to his scales. But that was nothing compared to the image burned into his mind as he rounded that corner. The sight of a bed of gold and diamonds piled upon the grimy ground. And on top of the treasure lay Bowser's treasure: a dirty, dark green spiked shell; a long, green-scaled tail curled around the muscular limbs pulled tight; and over the hunched shoulders of the sleeping dragon, a mass of blue hair, its broken tips betraying hints of purple.
Bowser saw her, and he felt her, and he knew he wasn't hallucinating.
- Koopa Castle, Dark Land, Mushroom World -
"He saw Bowselta."
Kamek snorted. "He imagined her, you mean."
"He was sure the vision was real," said Kammy, walking right up to Kamek as he bent over his book.
"His Highness is sure of a lot of things," said Kamek, turning the page.
"This is different!" Kammy reached forward, grabbed the front cover of the book and slammed it closed on Kamek's finger.
"Ow," frowned Kamek, pulling out his damaged digit.
"You weren't listening," said Kammy, as if that was justification enough for her action.
"There's no point listening," said Kamek, turning around to face his twin sister. "You're a fool if you believe Bowser. You want him to be happy so badly you're willing to go along with anything."
"It's not just anything. His Fracturedness's energy was released from his body, and it sought out its other half. Mated pairs' energy is combined, remember? It make perfect sense that-"
"No it doesn't," said Kamek rolling his eyes behind his glasses exasperatedly. "All that's just romantic dribble – post-copulatory combined energy signatures only differ less than three percent from their original patterns, and-"
"He saw her," insisted Kammy. "And he's going back to get her."
Kamek laughed. "You're both mad! You just barely rescued all the Koopas and collected all the crap left behind from this little outing, and you wanna go back!" Kamek growled. "This is what I get for staying behind…"
Kammy smirked, Kamek had decided the mission was doomed the moment it had reached his internal ears, and he had refused to tag along with the others to Earth. "Bowser was fine with you staying behind to watch Junior the first time, but this time, you're not wiggling out of it. The Koopalings are all staying behind with me, and you're going with Bowser."
"This is mental," snorted Kamek. "The second time around is going to be no different than the first. Bowselta is gone, and you guys should just accept that!" Kamek whirled around and reopened his book. As he thumbed through the pages looking for the passage he had been reading, he continued to mutter angrily. "I don't know what you idiots are thinking … You're gonna get us all killed … I knew the plan would never work from the beginning, and-"
"You 'knew', huh?" said Kammy, crossing her arms. "If you were so confident we were gonna fail, why'd you leak information to that Goomba spy?"
Kamek froze. "How could you say such a thing?" He bluffed.
"Don't lie to me, Kamek," said Kammy coolly. "You may think His Lovelornness and I are blinded by our desire to see Bowselta again, but your hatred towards her has clouded your mind just as much."
Kamek slammed the book shut and advanced on his sister until they were beak-to-beak. Kammy sneered smugly as Kamek's lips pursed into a thin smile. "I have no idea what you're talking about," he said at last, stepping back from his unamused twin. "Honest."
Before the old witch could respond to her brother's gall, the door to Kamek's study was flung open by the Koopa King. "Kammy? What are you doing here? Did you tell him about Bowselta?"
"I'm afraid so, Your Disappointedness," said Kammy, ripping her eyes from Kamek and smiling apologetically up at Bowser. "You see, I brought Kamek the data we collected when we came back through the portal, and I just couldn't help myself."
"Way to steal my thunder," huffed Bowser, but he soon brightened up. "However, I still have news for you both!"
"Oh? What's that, Your Surprisingness?" asked Kammy.
Kissass, thought Kamek.
"The only reason our first plan failed was because we didn't have enough time to search Earth before Luigi defeated all our spies, saved Mario, and-"
"And launched you out of a cannon," finished Kamek, struggling to suppress his smirk.
Bowser scowled. "Jeeze Kammy, didja have to tell him everything?"
"Sorry, Your Embarrassedness, but he was going to find out sooner or later, so I thought I'd be the bearer of bad news."
"I'm not embarrassed," lied Bowser. "But that's beside the point. My point is: we need more time to search for Bowselta, and what better way could there possibly be than to use time itself!"
"I'm not following," frowned Kamek.
"Yes, the grammar was a bit hard to follow, Your Unintelligibleness," winced Kammy.
"What do you mean? My plan's totally intelligent," said Bowser, having misheard Kammy's critical title. "Instead of sending the Mario Bros. out after our spies, we're gonna send him back in time!"
The Magikoopas blinked at their king incredulously. "I liked the plan better when it didn't make sense," said Kamek, adding in his head, grammatically or otherwise.
Bowser frowned. "You just don't understand it yet. I have it all planned out: instead of taking a castle, we'll take a doomship equipped with the Timulator-"
"What?" gasped Kamek; he was very protective of his time machine.
"Save your questions until the end of my presentation, please," said Bowser patronizingly, holding out a silencing hand.
Kamek growled, "what are we, in grade school?"
"If we were, you'd get a detention for all this lip," joked Kammy.
"Ha! So true!" grinned Bowser. He then continued with his plan. "So as I was saying, our cover-story this time will be that I want to make the Mushroom World's greatest museum, and to do it, I'm gonna steal exclusive artifacts from throughout the Earth humans' history."
"That's nuts," said Kamek.
"But you gotta admit, an Earth museum would certainly stand out in the Mushroom World. Humans everywhere would flock to see where they came from," said Kammy.
"My thoughts exactly," said Bowser brightly. "We can send Koopas back in time to get the goods as we fly around looking for Bowselta."
"And when Mario comes knocking? What happens then?" demanded Kamek.
"Didn't I say you should save your questions until the-"
"He'll destroy the doomship and leave us all stranded in the human world. Or worse," continued Kamek, too frustrated to care about what Bowser would do to him for his insolence.
"That's why we'll trick him into thinking all the artifacts are actually being stored in my castle – so he won't try to crash the ship. Though I doubt he would anyway, since he'd need the Timulator to return all the artifacts first."
"This scheme is even worse than the Antarctica one!" exclaimed Kamek. "When word gets out about this plan, everyone's gonna think you've lost your mind!"
"Unless, of course, this plan stays secret," said Kammy, shooting Kamek a scathing look. Fortunately, as her eyes were hidden behind her glasses, Bowser didn't see that.
"Actually, I'd rather that Mario hears about this plot," said the Koopa King. "Now that he knows we can get to Earth, you can bet the Mushroomian spies are gonna be keeping tabs on what we're doing, and I'd rather Mario fall for our trick than to just attack all willy-nilly and screw everything up."
"Why don't you just tell him the truth?" beseeched Kammy. "If he knows you're not really trying to do anything sinister, he'll probably leave you be."
"No way in hell," growled Bowser.
Kammy sighed. Why are men so damn proud?
Kamek growled recklessly. "Yeah? Well there's no way in hell I'm letting you use my Timulator to go screwing around with human history just so you can chase hallucinations!"
"'Hallucinations'?" hissed Bowser.
Kamek paled, realizing he had gone too far.
"I saw her, Kamek," said the Koopa King, angry steam curling our from between his lips and nostrils as he towered over his Chief Advisors, one of which was slowly inching away from her twin brother. "I saw her and I am going to find her, and you are going to help me, or I am going to roast you alive and feed you to the Chain-Chomps. Understand?"
Kamek and Bowser were both glaring daggers at once-another, but before long, Kamek gave a jerky nod. "Fine," he spat. "I'll get the Timulator out of storage first thing tomorrow."
Bowser smiled. "Good." Then he opened his mouth wide and engulfed Kamek in a massive flare. Even if they eventually came around, no one challenged the King of the Koopas. Period.
As predicted, Mario and Yoshi (sans the mentally exhausted Luigi) turned up at Koopa Castle soon after the second plan had been put in motion. This time it was Yoshi who jumped the gun and got himself captured, which was an unforeseen bonus for the Koopas. Bowser managed to convince Mario that he had to return all the artifacts before he could save Yoshi, since the entire course of history could change if he failed in that quest. Bowser was lying through his teeth, of course, but Mario didn't know that.
It was a clever plan, actually: since all the artifacts made it through Earth's timeline intact, Bowser knew his purloining of the various knick-knacks could not be permanent. History told him that the artifacts were restored before long, so he knew Mario would take the bait and spend his time returning them – that's how it happened in the past, so the present must flow in a way that would facilitate those events.
Or at least, that's how Kammy, Kamek, Ludwig and Iggy explained it; Bowser wasn't an expert on the why and how – all he knew was that the past was immutable. He learned that the hard way when he first used the Timulator. (Which he had commissioned Kamek to develop after being inspired by Professor E. Gadd's failed time machine.) With the Timulator, Bowser had gone back to the time that he and the Mario Bros. were infants in an attempt to capture the fabled Star Kids and use their power to rule the world, only to be humiliatingly defeated by some Yoshis and a handful of babies. The experience told Bowser that mucking about in the past was nothing more than a waste of time – which, as he had explained to his Magikoopa advisors, was exactly what he needed.
So, while Mario was ping-ponging through the ages, Bowser was scouring the globe in a cloaked airship, purportedly to search museums for new artifacts he could steal from the past in order to replace the ones Mario had returned. In reality, the sensor banks lining the control room were doing nothing but scanning for Bowselta, and since Bowser and Kamek were the only ones allowed in the control room, no one was the wiser. And, to make sure the soldiers didn't grow suspicious of the restricted bridge access (which was unlike regular doomship policy), Kamek told everyone it was to ensure no one inadvertently tampered with the Timulator housed beyond the retractable wall at the back of the bridge. Fortunately, most members of the Koopa Troop were complacent with their lot in life, and didn't bother asking questions. So, when one of the Koopa Troopa guards, by name of Johnson, flicked on his personal radio in one night and discovered that the doomship was broadcasting special Koopan radio signals as well as its passive sensors, he just shrugged and changed channels to a human easy-listening station.
Kamek, however, wasn't so mellow. He hated the plan; all the cities they visited were state-of-the-art metropolises, like Paris, Tokyo, London and Toronto, and he was sure something would see through the doomship's shielding. He was also worried that something would pick up on their radio broadcast, but Bowser was adamant about keeping it on – and at full-power no less. The Koopa King was pretty sure he saw a radio in his "dream", and hoped Bowselta would hear the call and come to the surface, where the sensors were sure to pick her up (whereas, if she remained in her sewers, her energy signal might be masked by the ground above her). Not to mention the fact that any satellite in polar orbit could have easily snapped a photo of the Antarctic castle during the first, failed plan; the Koopas were down there for a week, which was more than enough time for the humans to see them. Bowser, Kammy and everyone else (except paranoid little Larry) had waved off his concerns, but Kamek knew he was right. Somehow, he knew the Koopas had made a grievous error when they activated that interdimensional portal. And one day, he knew everyone would be sorry they didn't listen to him.
- New York City, Earth -
Behind a fake wall in the sewers of New York City, Bowselta Koopa was counting her money. She figured she had finally amassed enough stolen riches to buy a Russian submarine sturdy enough to carry her through the portal that had sucked her into the human world nearly three years previously. She had been gradually selling her wares in shady, underground venues, where a trench coat, a scarf and a mask helped to conceal her draconian identity. Humans were used to dealing with secretive merchants, and so Bowselta was never hassled for her towering stature or her bulky figure during her transactions. But she never tried pushing it, and hadn't seen the light of day in months.
As she counted, she listened to her radio, making sure to play it so quietly the sound would not reach the rest of the sewers. Periodically, she'd scan through the waves, just in case she was in luck and a normally inaccessible channel managed to filter down into her subterranean hideaway. She had just past $10,000 when she decided to scan again, and then she heard it.
At first she was sure she was imagining it, and continued twisting the radio's dial, but the unmistakably Koopan signal just resonated louder and louder from the radio. Bowselta looked back over her shoulder at the end of her "room", where, mere days ago, she had woken up to see, or rather, feel Bowser's silvery silhouette, dispersing into the air. She thought she had imagined that too, but something in her gut told her it had been real, and though she felt foolish, she used that as justification for speeding up her illegal transactions. She had even picked out a Paltus-class submarine that insiders told her was on the market. She would be able to leave in a matter of months, if not weeks, but now, as the signal filled her internal ears, Bowselta knew rescue was closer at hand than she had ever dreamed it would be.
She seized the radio (which was battery-operated, like all of Bowselta's appliances), clicked off her desk light, and dashed for the exit. Carefully closing the wall behind her, she adjusted the radio's antenna to determine which way the signal was coming from. She then cranked the volume up to max (the signal had magical properties and could only be heard by Koopas and a few other select Mushroomian species, but not by Earth humans, so she had nothing to fear). Bowselta followed the sewers left and right, until they had led her all the way to Central Park. She grabbed hold of the nearest ladder and started up towards the manhole leading to salvation. She tried carrying the radio, but as she reached up towards the manhole cover, she was too exited to care anymore, and let it slip from her grime-smeared shoulder. A burst of electrical sparks illuminated the sewer as the radio hit the wastewater, and before the light had died, Bowselta threw open the cast-iron cover.
Onboard the doomship, Bowser's latest plan had come to a fiery end. It seems a few of the artifacts he had taken weren't actually key to Earth history, such as one of William Shakespeare's many pens, or a random prehistoric egg, and Mario had chosen to skip them. This resulted in him busting in on Bowser's control room a few hours ahead of schedule, and catching the Koopas off-guard. Mario seemed unfazed by the fact that they were in an airship instead of a castle, and wasted no time in engaging Bowser in their latest pitched battle. Their attacks damaged the ship more than each other, and soon systems were failing all over the vessel as fireballs struck key control panels and conduits.
"Your Highness, energy is at 53% and falling!" reported Kamek.
"I don't care!" bellowed Bowser, avoiding Mario's latest jump attack. "Why don't you make yourself useful and HELP ME?"
He had a point, but another alarm drew the Magikoopa's attention. "Shit... We just lost the cloaking field!"
Bowselta's eyes widened as she caught sight of the doomship hovering just beyond a nearby stand of trees. She pulled herself out of the hole and ran through the underbrush of Central Park as fast as she could.
As Kamek frantically tried to turn the doomship invisible again – before Special Forces rained down upon them from the sky – another panel beeped. Kamek glanced out of it uninterestedly, but then did a double-take as he realized it was the sensor reporting a familiar energy signal below the airship. "No," he hissed, whirling around in horror to see if Bowser had seen it too. The sensor was connected right to the king's throne, where a light was now flashing. But Bowser was in no fit state to notice anything, as he now lay in a heap, with a victorious Mario standing over him.
"NO!" repeated Kamek, this time flying across the room to his master's aid with a particularly handy levitation spell he had leaned recently. But it was no use, and Mario quickly batted away the Magikoopa with a barrage of fireballs. Bowser let out a belch of flame at the distracted plumber, but Mario nimbly dodged it and brought his foot down hard on Bowser's face.
Bowselta reached the clearing in no time flat, leaping up onto a nearby rocky outcropping and stared up at the doomship, wondering how she could possibly get their attention. She considered shooting at it with her firebreath, or maybe simply shouting, but she never got a chance to do either.
"Holy Jesus!" came an exclamation to Bowselta's right. Her attention snapped to the far side of the rocky outcropping, and as she caught sight of the terrified policeman, she cursed herself for not checking to make sure the coast was clear. "Shit!" cried the human as he met her flashing red eyes. Bowselta jumped the second she realized he was pulling out his gun, but she was too late. The explosion echoed in the air, and Bowselta fell to the ground.
The energy censors went quiet just as Bowser was getting back to his feet. With a gasp he fell back to his knees, an inexplicable coldness filling every inch of his body.
"Your Highness!" Kamek jumped to the Koopa King's side, ignoring Mario, who had just freed Yoshi with a key he had lifted from Bowser.
"She's gone…" he whispered, his eyes wide in horror. "I felt her again, and now she's gone!"
Kamek opened his mouth, and turned towards the silent sensor, only to see the wall separating the Timulator and the bridge reduced to rubble by Mario. "No! Stop!" cried Kamek, heading after them. Mario and Yoshi disappeared, having transported themselves to Antarctica using the time (and teleportation) machine, undoubtedly planning to use the Koopa's portal (which was still there, under guard) to return to the Mushroom World. However, the rubble from the wall had damaged to Timulator, and using it had only made it worse.
"It's malfunctioning!" screamed Kamek, grabbing his wand and trying to shut the machine off as it prepared to engage again – and send the entire airship back to the Cretaceous.
"Who cares?" moaned Bowser, still slumped on the ground. "She's gone…"
"Ahhh! No! Stop, stop, stop!" wailed Kamek, practically beating the Timulator in desperation as it engulfed the entire doomship in electricity and sucked it away.
"…No I am not kidding, I just shot a real-life Goddammed alien! … No! No, listen to me! There's a flying ship here too, and it-" The policeman gasped as the airship above him was surrounded in blue sparks, glowed a brilliant white and then disappeared. His mouth still hanging open, he clicked on his radio again. "Base, this is Griggs – the alien ship just disappeared. I repeat, disappeared! … What? No, no I am not making this up. Haven't you heard from Jones yet? … Goddammit, that man takes far too long to go to the washroom! Wha- yeah… Yeah… No, no! I'm serious! I am looking at the alien right now!"
Griggs had finally cleared the rocks and was staring down at his quarry, his gun in one hand, the radio in the other. The "alien" lay in a crumpled pile on the ground before him, blood pouring out of the bullet hole in its leg. It didn't seem to be moving, or even breathing, so Griggs slowly walked towards it. Describing everything he could see in the dim lighting through the radio. He was still a newcomer to the New York Police Department, and he really hoped his partner, Jones, would hurry up and get off the toilet and come verify that there was a real live – or dead – alien in Central Park.
"I- No… Look, can you put Chief on the line? I wanna talk to Ch-" Griggs was cut off with a scream as Bowselta lashed out with her tail and knocked the human's legs out from under him. He hit the ground, his radio spinning out of his hand as he gripped at his gun and tried to take aim, but Bowselta was prepared this time. She grabbed both his wrists with her left hand, and pushed his arms away from her head; the bullets fired off into the night as she seized Griggs' skull with her other hand and twisted. She heard his neck snap like a toothpick and Griggs' body went numb, the gun falling from his hands. If there was one thing the Queen of the Koopas liked about unmagical Earth humans, it was that they died easily.
Bowselta pushed her body off of the ground, wincing as a new wave of pain shot through her leg. Her entire body had gone cold and all her powers seemed to be locked in, and she knew it was because of the bullet lodged within her flesh. Holding her breath, she dug her claws into the wound, burrowing deeper into the muscle until she felt them hit metal. She seized the bullet with the tips of her talons, and pulled it out. Immediately, warmth spread through her body, and she threw the bullet away without a second glance. She spat on her hand and smeared the saliva over the wound to act as a temporary bandage, before shakily getting to her feet.
She set Griggs' body aflame to dispose of the evidence. As she limped away, she used her firebreath to ignite the puddle of her own blood too, and even fired the stuff still clinging to her so that it didn't leave a trail. But for some reason, it seemed the bullet hole was still bleeding, and despite the flames, her leg was still cold. Bowselta could hear approaching sirens, though, and so she simply pulled out a piece of cloth from her hammerspace and pressed it to her wound as she ran back through the trees. Miraculously, she met no one else on her way back, and disappeared back into the sewers without incident.
Not willing to leave footprints on the walkway, in case the cops decided to search the sewers, Bowselta jumped into the wastewater, wincing at the thought of the mire seeping into her wound. She was just glad Dragon-Koopas were immune to most infectious diseases as she slogged her way back to her room. Once inside, she turned on her light and gasped as she saw that the blood oozing from her wound and staining her cloth wasn't coppery, but pitch black. Even after clearing out the sewage that had swirled into the hole, the wound was still black, and the skin around it even looked grayish.
Bowselta paled and sat back against the wall. She could hardly believe that fifteen minutes earlier she had left her room on her way to rescue, only to have it all ripped away. And her health with it: when Dragon-Koopas died in battle, their spilt blood stained everything it touched black – the Mark of the Dead. Bowselta pulled out her sword; it was stained from beheading Bowser's great-grandfather, and now she bore a similar mark. She thought back to the legendary black magic of the human weaponry – energy from another realm, toxic to the residents of the Mushroom World.
Bowselta frowned and sucked her sword back into her hammerspace, shaking those thoughts from her head. She wouldn't give in – not without a fight. If anything, this encounter showed her that her situation wasn't hopeless. Bowser had come to Earth to rescue her; he had come so close, and while Bowselta didn't know why the doomship disappeared, she knew he would come back. He hadn't give up on her in three years, and he wouldn't now.
Or so Bowselta thought, but she was wrong. The bullet had cancelled out her energy for only a moment, but it was that moment that Bowser felt, and he was convinced she was dead for it. Once Kamek fixed the Timulator and brought them all back to the present, Bowser sailed straight to Antarctica and returned to the Mushroom World, closing the artificial portal behind him forever. He destroyed any research that could possibly be used to form another interdimensional bridge with the human world, and despite Kamek's desperate pleas, he threw the technology into the nearest open lava pool.
But that wasn't enough for Bowser and his fiery, broken heart. The Koopa King took his anger out on the universe itself. He drew up a plot to destroy the cruel reality that had taken Bowselta away, and create his own galaxy in its place. But as always, he failed. Mario defeated him, and before Bowser could build up the strength or the resolve to hatch another plan, Bowselta returned.
After a couple weeks of waiting, Bowselta had realized Bowser wasn't coming back and returned to her original Russian submarine plan. Her wound had healed by then, leaving a black scar in its place. Over the years, many wondered about the origins of the mark, but Bowselta refused to tell anyone. She knew if Bowser found out she had been shot trying to contact him, he would never forgive himself, so she denied ever knowing the doomship had been to Earth. Eventually, Bowser stopped bringing up the whole thing too, as he was so ashamed of the fact she had been there and he had been right, but had foolishly given up so easily and turned his back on the human world.
The Koopas moved on, acting as if their respective times on Earth never happened. But they did happen, and the rest is history.