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-Days later-

The recent crime wave that has washed over Mushroom Kingdom has concerned everyone. Over the past few days, citizens have reported a number of occurrences that seem to get worse with each passing day.

What started with simple graffiti, quickly turned in to theft, and the most recent; heavy vandalism. This didn't escape the walls of Mushroom Kingdom; while at Peach's castle, the Princess has been busy with more than a few complaints. It seemed that every fifteen minutes someone would approach with another report. It was shocking to the young princess. The kingdom has always been so peaceful; what's so different about now? Peach knew right away what the difference was… Mario. He had been gone for a long time and no one seemed to have any idea where he might be. This worried the princess to no end. Even as more and more requests poured in, her mind kept its place firm on Mario. Where in the world could he be? She repeated the question over and over in the back of her mind, but could find no answer. The crimes that were occurring screamed Bowser all over them, at least the first few did… There must be something that they were missing…

At that moment, Toadsworth came into the large throne room carrying another handful of complaint forms. He wore a tight-lipped scowl and eyed the stack of papers in his hands.

"I am sad to bring in the next set of complaints filed since noon." he said solemnly. Peach did not seem to hear or react to his words; she was too far lost in her own thoughts to notice he had even entered the room until he patted on the shoulder. Unaware of the man's presence, she jumped slightly in her seat and looked up at him with a surprised expression.

"Toadsworth, when did you get here?" She placed a hand over her chest to calm her pounding heart. He looked her over with a concerned eye and laid his hand upon her cheek.

"I know the growing rate of crime has worried you deeply, but you must be strong for your people." he stared at her like a parent soothing a child "We must keep an open mind and hope everything turns out well."

He went back to the papers and handed her a small stack. Peach slowly took them from him and placed them in her lap. "Perhaps you are right." she wished that by saying it, she might bring herself to believe; no such luck. Her heart sank at the sight of all the papers and she felt that the worst had yet to come. For Toadsworth's sake, the princess put on a half-hearted smile "Thank you." The old Toad turned and walked back out of the room, turning once at the doorway to give her a reassuring smile.

Once again, she was back in her thoughts. "Mario…" she whispered under her breath. Never before had she truly realized how much the kingdom depended on the plumber. He was always around and things never got this out of hand. The moment it seems he is gone however, chaos rains throughout the land. He had always been right at Peach's side when the skies began to darken, and he always managed to pull her and the rest of the kingdom through… Where was he now? While everything is falling apart, Mario has not been seen or heard from by anyone.

"I hope he can tell me where Mario went…" Peach said to herself trying to sound hopeful, but the empty comment fell onto her own deaf ears. She sat there in silence, staring blankly at the stacks of papers in front of her.

With Luigi

Racing through the streets of Mushroom Kingdom, Luigi noticed immediately that something was wrong. The entire town seemed to be in disarray. Citizens were running around as if under the attack of some giant bird from above. Windows were shattered, doors wide open like someone had broken the locks, everywhere Luigi saw graffiti covered buildings.

"What's going on here?" he panted lightly and continued to the castle. Peach had called for him to come as soon as he possibly could for some reason. Usually it was Mario who got all the messages, but his brother had not returned home for days now. The younger of the two tried convincing himself that his brother was just staying with Peach at the castle, as he often did after saving the day… There was still something not right in the back of his head. It screamed at him, telling Luigi something was not right at all with his brother. Mario would have contacted him by now. Where is he? The kingdom looks ready to fall to pieces; shouldn't Mario be saving the day?

Luigi was welcomed in to the castle with apologetic smiles. It was not that no one was happy to see him, but the circumstances under which he was called to face were not going to lead to a friendly visit. He was there because something was very wrong in the Mushroom Kingdom…

He was led to the throne room where Peach was said to be waiting for him. The Toad waved his goodbyes and scurried to another part of the castle to take care of some other matter. Upon entering the large room, Luigi approached the princess. Peach however seemed to take no note of his presence. The green plumber walked up and placed a light hand on her shoulder, startling her out of her thoughts. She looked up at him with confused and worried eyes.

"Good afternoon Luigi...How have you been?" Peach greeted plainly. He glanced down at her and took in her apprehensive expression. He greeted her back with- "Worried", as if reading her mind.

"I understand…" she said compassionately. She then proceeded to ask him the all important question.

"Have you seen Mario in the past few days?"

Luigi let out a disheartened sigh and replied- "No. That's what's worrying me the most."

"Oh, well… just keep your eyes and ears open for me. Alright?" The hope diminishing from her voice. The plumber nodded. "Mhmm."

"But in the meantime, I'm sure you've noticed all the chaos on your way over here" the princess stated the matter at hand.

"Yeah…" he said.

"I would like you to take a look around for me. See if you can find out who or what is doing all of this." Luigi nodded.

"Alrighty."

"Thank you…" Peach smiled sadly. Luigi lightly placed his hand over her own in a comforting manner. She looked into his eyes and they told her not to worry. He would find out everything that was going on.

"It'll be alright" he assured her. Taking a deep breath, she asked him of one more favor.

"I would also like for you to stay at the castle until we can find Mario" her tone serious. Luigi only replied with a simple nod and went on his way.

AT THE JEWELRY STORE

The green clad plumber arrived at the store to see the owner with a broom sweeping up the millions of glass shards scattered all over the floor. He was mumbling under his breath incoherently. Luigi began his investigation. He entered the shop and looked around at all the damage inflicted. The owner eventually noticed him and greeted.

"Oh, Mr. Luigi! What brings you by?" he said as he continued sweeping along.

"Erm… what happened?" Luigi asked.

"Someone broke into my store the other night and took everything from the main display case" he said, stating the obvious.

"Eee… any idea who did it?"

The owner sighed. "The cameras were knocked out. I'm afraid I have no clue." Luigi frowned at the owner's misfortune. He then asked an even more vital question.

"Well… have you seen Mario recently?"

"Oh I wish I could say I have. It would be a lot more peaceful around here if he would show up and beat whoever did this. But, no I can't say I have."

Luigi pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed deeply. This turned out to be a waste of time. He turned back toward the owner and told him a quick thank you before making his way down the street to the next crime scene.

MEANWHILE AT BOWSER'S

The king summoned the newest member of his evil clan to his throne room to discuss his new plans for him. Mario approached Bowser with the look of apathy, but on the inside, conflicted feelings clashed. On one side, he felt reluctant to obey Bowser. However on the other side, he had to admit being bad was… enjoyable. He surprised himself with the thought, but he could not deny it. King Koopa caught his attention.

"Now it's time we had some real fun" he said with a wicked smile. Mario raised an eyebrow quizzically.

"What do you mean 'fun'?"

Bowser shifted in his throne. "I mean, it's time to step up your game. Show me your true potential."

"Well, what do you want me to do?" Mario asked.

"I want you to destroy. I want you to make those pathetic people quiver with fear and succumb to your every whim! Make them bow to you!"

Mario tensed at the king's demand. Eyes slightly wide, he was uneasy… and excited. Bowser could see it sparkle in his little blue eyes and a dark smile emerged.

"You may take my minions."

The "hero" simply nodded and ran off to his new mission. King Koopa laughed hardily, unheard by the other.

"You will be mine, my old nuisance…"

A fun and exciting atmosphere surrounded the Royal Raceway in Mushroom Kingdom as racers zipped around the circuit. The crowd cheered happily, the racers were having fun, and everything seemed to be going well on yet another great day on the track. All seemed to be right with the world on this partly cloudy day… Then, as the racers rounded the corner to complete another lap, a bob-omb suddenly landed in their path. However, it didn't appear at an angle where one of the racers could have thrown it. They swerved to avoid it, some crashing into others, some arriving too late to dodge the explosion. The audience gasped simultaneously in shock. A bob-omb then landed in the center of the stands.

Everyone fled to escape the danger. Soon, bob-ombs and hammers began to rain down onto the track and people, followed by the ones responsible for the attack. Hammer bros. and paratroopas appeared, terrorizing and striking the crowd fiercely. The jumbo screen emitted a loud buzz as the screen fuzzed with static. When signal returned, the image immediately caught the people's attention.

On the screen, Mario stood before the glass container which housed the grand prize for the winner of the race. A gleaming trophy embedded with rubies around the rim, almost overflowing with blue coins. The crowd stopped and stared at him, mouths agape in surprise. They awaited him to pummel the attackers and save the day as he always did. However, seeing his uniform and demeanor, they became unnerved. He did not look like the heroic young man they revered. They watched and waited for him to move. His sights alternated between their frightened faces and the glorious prize in front of him.

A strange feeling washed over Mario… a feeling of dominance, control… something he thought he wouldn't feel in this situation… he liked it.

"Heads up!" a hammer bro. called out, tossing him the weapon his name implies. Mario snatched it up by the handle and gripped it firmly. The crowd watched in bewilderment and fear. He gazed down upon them, the adrenaline rushing inside of him... He raised his arm back and swung the hammer down with significant force. The people yelped and gasped as the glass case shattered into a million twinkling pieces. Mario stared at the vulnerable prize and thoughts began quickly rising in his mind. For so long he had lived in this land. He was their idol, their living treasure next to the princess, he was their only scapegoat when danger threatened…

He tossed the hammer and gripped the trophy's arms tight. Mario raised the gold and stared down at the pathetic faces below. They watched back, their hearts slowly sinking. Mario's mouth formed a twisted, malicious smile resembling that of the Dark Land King his people feared. His magnified image on the jumbo screen made it all the more terrifying.

"What are you doing, Mario?!" someone finally spoke out. "Why aren't you saving us!?"

Said one whipped his attention to the person, his sharp gaze shooting a dagger at him. He leered for a few seconds silently before panning his sights towards the whole crowd. At that moment, Mario felt as though he were on top of the world. A tremendous feeling of empowerment rose within him, an ecstasy he hadn't felt before…

"The Mario you know is gone!" he finally answered back, much to the surprise and dismay of the Mushroom Kingdom dwellers.

"I'm tired of saving your sorry hides all the time! You people couldn't save yourselves if you were trapped under a cardboard box!"

They had to admit, this was true. The kingdom had been under attack and helpless an embarrassing number of times and it was always Mario that had to save the day.

"Besides. I find being this way… fun!"

The people could only stare with their mouths agape at their now former hero, the sudden change of heart shocked them all. This new thrill enticed him greatly. His intimidation over all of these people made him feel more powerful than ever. Though his irises were a light color of cerulean, they were glazed with dark aura.

"I… am your enemy. From now on…"

He reached out a hand, signaling a minion. A paratroopa tossed him a lit bob-omb, Mario catching it without breaking his sights on the terrified spectators. The twisted smile returned more official and malicious. The former hero bounced the explosive in his hand once.

"YOU FEAR ME!"

He hurled it into the stands. Screams of horror erupted as everyone scattered like ants in the rain. An evil maniacal laugh rose out of Mario… he was now a villain.