Once Upon a Time… a great tragedy struck the Marioverse…

"…there must be something we can do…" Eldstar moaned.

"Alas…" Grambi sighed, his great wings drooping low. "…I fear not…"

Only because of the great heroes that were summoned—the tragedy was ceased, and the worlds were set back into harmony.

"No." Jaydes declared loudly as she rose from her seat. "There must be something. There's always something."

But the greater beings that watched over the Marioverse were not satisfied with this ending to their tale. They believed more trouble was soon coming—and saw it approaching on the horizon.

"We are rulers of the universe—are we not?" Jaydes demanded, pacing furiously around the glowing orb at the center of the dark room. "We may do whatever we please! Who is to sto—"

Grambi sighed tiredly. "Jaydes, please… enough meddling! Thou doth not consider—it doth not be out place to—"

"To what, Grams?" Jaydes snapped, whipping around to face the Nimbi. "To protect everyone here? To do whatever it takes to keep the worlds safe?"

A darkness—greater than the first—was swiftly coming their way. Everyone was running out of time. The beings that watched had to think quickly—or those left under their protection would quickly fall to ruin.

"Forgive me, Jaydes…" Eldstar interrupted, floating between the two. "…but, Grambi does have a point… you have done quite a bit of meddling in the lives and deaths of these mortals…"

"And so what if I have?" Jaydes demanded, flinching back from them both. "I had no choice! I got sick of sitting around here waiting for the end of the worlds, so I sent someone out to go fix it!"

Between the forces of evil and the forces of good—a sick game was being played. The beings knew not which side they played for—only that evil was winning. And if evil won, their precious worlds and beautiful mortals were doomed.

They could not let that happen.

Jaydes leaned on the pedestal that the orb floated upon, breathing a heavy sigh. "…I realize there will be a price for my meddling… I realize I am playing right into the hand of evil, and supplying them with even more villains… but it is a price I am willing to pay—my efforts are gathering heroes for the side of good…"

"But, Jaydes—" Grambi pleaded, interrupted when Jaydes held up a slender hand to silence him.

They were filling evil's armies, but they were doing the same for good's. Good didn't necessarily have to win, evil simply had to be stopped. Unfortunately, this was the only way of doing so. It hurt them to know they had to twist and ruin so much, but if the fate of the worlds required it, then so be it.

"…this must be stopped." Jaydes declared, ghosting a clawed hand over the orb, shifting its image to a lone figure in a dark room. "…I realize it is dangerous what I am doing… I realize I am breaking countless rules and warping countless fates and manipulating countless souls… but there simply is no other way…"

Darkness would never again overtake their worlds. It would come fairly close—so close the greater beings did not dare to think of it. But it would never consume them again. They would make sure of it.

Grambi and Eldstar exchanged a wary glance, but the Queen's logic was hard to ignore. Releasing a final sigh, Grambi slowly approached Jaydes and gently placed his hand over hers. "…very well, Jaydes… if thou doth feel this is our best path… then so be it…"

They were ruining so much, but it would all be well worth it. All the pieces were falling into place.

Their heroes would stop this evil.







The crowd erupted into a massive wave of cheer and applause that drowned the stadium of the Mario circuit. The noise echoed for miles around and had to have been heard at least halfway across the Mushroom Kingdom.

Drowned out horribly by the noise was the roar of engines and screeching of tires as the contestants warmed up for their first race. Lakitus flew this way and that, chasing the racers with their cameras to send each one to the giant mega-screen and across the globe to anyone that happened to be tuning in.

"Looks like everyone's excited to see their favorite racers back in action, huh?" The male Toad announcer asked his partner.

The female nodded, bouncing her pink curls around. "Most defiantly—and who wouldn't be? We've got the famous Mario Brothers—Mario and Luigi—going head to head for the gold, just like always!"

The image of both brothers appeared on the split screen, and the crowd went absolutely wild for their heroes.

"And of course, we can't forget our lovely ladies!" The Toadette continued.

The Toad switched the image to the Mario Brothers female counterparts. "What do you say everyone? Let's here it for the fabulous Princesses Peach and Daisy!"

Unlike Mario and Luigi—dead-set on their racing—Daisy waved wildly to her cheering fans, Peach winking to the cameras and blowing a few kisses.

"It's too bad King Bowser couldn't make it to this year's race…" The Toad went on, casting a look of sympathy to the now-booing audience.

"True, true—always been one of the favorites, hasn't he?" The Toadette agreed. "But, luckily! The Mario Brothers know the show must go on, and they've found an eager replacement for the Koopa King! Everybody—give it up for Livi!"

The crowd erupted into applause as a foreign face took the screen—the face of a young human girl with her long brown hair in a tight ponytail and a wide smile as she waved her entire arm to the cheering crowd.

"Un… be… lievable." Luigi said with a smirk, reclining in his chair. The replay from the last race before him on the large TVs of the racer's lounge area.

"Wasn't I, though?" Luigi smiled and turned to see the fangirl jogging over to fling her arms around his shoulders. "How cool is this?" she ranted. "Two races already and I'm holding fifth!"

The green-clad hero laughed, offering Livi the seat beside him. "I know—honestly, I didn't expect you to do so well."

"Hey, I've been doing my research, thank you very much!" Livi snapped. She then proceeded to flop dramatically all over the table. "I tell ya, its exhausting, though… that stupid bike's got way more buttons than a Wiimote…"

Luigi laughed again, lightly patting her shoulders. "…eighteen." he stated randomly—though not for the first time that morning.

Livi flashed him a smile. "As of two whole months ago. You still sound surprised."

"…Its been over four years since we last saw you." Luigi sighed, looking almost sad. "You usually come back quicker… what happened?"

"Ugh…" The fangirl groaned dramatically. "School, work, family, friends, life freaking happened. Not even happened! Just snatched me up and ate me alive!"

Luigi gave her a sympathetic half-smile. "I'm sorry… at least you're back now, though…"

Livi smiled, nodded, and immediately bolted upright. "Hells yeah—you better believe it! Obsessive Fangirl is back in action, baby!" Suddenly, Livi froze, as if something of utmost importance had just surfaced in her memory. She whipped around, scanned the room, and audibly gasped. "IS THAT YOSHI?" she shrieked.

Luigi turned, followed the fangirl's gaze, and nodded. "Sure is. Hey, Yoshi!" he called out, waving the dino over to their table.

In a noisy clambering of footsteps, Yoshi rushed over to Luigi, earning a pat on the snout. "Yoshi, this is Livi. We told you about her right."

Yoshi chirped a series of odd noises, nodding his head in the affirmative. He shoved his snout up under Livi's hand—the fangirl squeeling in delight and petting him roughly. "Ah, you're such a good boy, aren't you, Yoshi! You are just so cute!"

Yoshi barked in delight, perked up as his name was called, and forgot Livi in all of two seconds—already running back across the room.

Livi turned to watch the dinosaur abandon them, then promptly turned to Luigi. "Why am I racing for Bowser, again?"

Luigi shrugged. "He's planning an attack on the Mushroom Kingdom soon. There's no way he'd show his face at the race."

Livi pursed her lips, nodding her head solemnly. "That's what I thought you said. Is Kamek at least gonna come see us?"

The green-clad hero was silent for a bit. "…probably not."

"…Oh." Livi said. "He couldn't get away?"

Luigi shook his head. "Nah. He said he tried everything—Bowser won't let him. And Grambi-forbid he'd even consider defying Bowser."

Livi blinked. "…when did you talk to him?"

"Hm?" Luigi seemed surprised. "Oh, I haven't. We've been writing to each other."

"Writing?" Livi shrieked, growing more estatic by the second. "Like secret lovers? Adorable! Since when?"

Luigi laughed. "Since you left, I guess."

"AH!" Livi cried, flinging her arms around Luigi's shoulders. "That's so cute! I knew you two were gonna be best friends! I just knew it!" Untangling herself from a thoroughly embarrassed Luigi, Livi pulled back and demanded "What about the others?"

Luigi twisted his lips, eyes rolling up to the ceiling. "I haven't heard from any of the others in a while. I don't know what they're up to."

Livi's smile twitched slightly. "Gotcha." She said.

Luigi raised an eyebrow as Livi began to look spastically around the room. "Um… is everything alright?"

Livi nodded. "Yeah, of course! Just, um… what about Fawful?" She demanded.

Luigi blinked. "I just told you—I haven't heard from any of them in a while. And if you'll recall, I was left with specific instructions to ignore him."

Livi swallowed a lump in her throat, suddenly looking sort of nervous. "Oh. Well, I was just… wondering…"

Luigi glanced around, then leaned in close to Livi and lowered his voice. "What's going on?"

"N-nothing…" Livi choked out. "Just… um… there was a new game… came out a few months ago…"

Luigi leaned back, nodding solemnly. "…so you know?"

Whatever Livi was trying to hide immediately drowned her entire complexion as her face became the true, complete, absolute definition of heartbreak. "…no… he's…"

Luigi's arms were immediately around Livi's shoulders. "Liv, I'm sorry… I'm so, so, so sorry… I did everything I cou—"

"You promised!" Livi cried, shoving him away from her. "You said you'd leave him alone!"

"What was I supposed to do?" Luigi demanded. "You saw what he was doing! Someone had to stop him!"

"So you killed him?" Livi shrieked.

Luigi tried to say something, then stopped, and sighed. "Livi, I'm sorry… he just… he wasn't even himself anymore… he didn't know what he was doing…"

Livi just shook her head. "…I thought you guys were friends now… I thought all of us were… how could you just—"

"Okay, stop." Luigi said sharply. "It wasn't like that. I told you—I did everything I could. You think I wanted to kill him? He wouldn't listen to me. To anyone. That thing completely devoured his mind."

Livi went silent. She turned away from him, her face downcast, not saying anything at all. Luigi wished he could say something to her, but the fact was, there just wasn't anything to be said. So, he simply wrapped an arm around her shoulders, allowed the two to sit in silence a moment, then rose with a simple, "C'mon. I thought you had a race to win?"

"I do." Livi declared, jumping from her seat and heading straight to the garages with a determined look on her face.