Disclaimer: I don't own the Mario series or the characters found in it.
Author's Note: I'm old-fashioned and maintain that the Koopalings' original designs are what they actually look like, leading me to hand-wave their new designs by saying "they dyed their shells". But a couple of 'em require a bit more explanation, and so I combined that with an idea I've had kicking around for years: hopefully it worked out alright.
A New Man
Iggy couldn't wait to see his father's face when he demonstrated his latest trick. It used to be that he could only cause lightning to rain down on folks, but after months of practice, he was finally confident in his ability to actually blast it straight from his fingertips. Bowser had always said electricity was the hardest power to master for the few Dragon-Koopas lucky enough to even have the ability, and he didn't even use his lightning attacks much, so Iggy was sure he was in for some delicious praise. Barely keeping his composure, Iggy hurried through the castle as fast as he could go without breaking into a run, his heart in his throat as he finally reached the tall red doors, pushed them open… and saw that Ludwig was already there.
"Huh? Oh, Iggy – bad timing. You just missed Ludwig's lightning display," remarked Bowser from the throne.
"He… was showing you his powers?" said Iggy, his face falling. He was good, but Ludwig was better: he could teleport using his powers. Not even Bowser could do that. Iggy could almost hear the praise going silent before it even began: no way would anything impress Bowser after a show from the eldest Koopaling.
Ludwig knew Iggy was there to try and show off, and grimaced apologetically.
Bowser didn't notice the nonverbal exchange between his children as he explained the scene to Iggy. "Yeah, I asked him how things were going – see if we could use the teleportation as a way to kidnap Peach, but she might get a little singed, so… I think we'll just stick with the birthday cake plan."
"Makes sense," muttered Iggy. "Well, sorry to interrupt-"
"You're not interrupting – I said you missed Ludwig's demonstration, remember? Jeeze, learn to listen," Bowser rolled his eyes.
"Sorry," said Iggy, his eyes still downcast. "I'll get out of your way."
"Wait, wait, don't go," said Bowser as the bespectacled Koopaling turned to leave. "I wasn't just checking out the teleportation – I wanna make sure you guys are all fighting fit to face Mario again. It's been a few years, not including those few accidents…" Bowser thought back to the incidents with the hotels and the bean witch and suppressed a shudder before continuing. "We gotta clobber him! I was just telling Ludwig to go fetch Lemmy, but since you're already here, what the heck, let's go out of order!" Bowser grinned. "Come to think of it, maybe we should mix up the order when we invade too – going by age is too predictable: we want Mario to not know what he's in for!"
"Of course, but are you sure you wouldn't want to see Lemmy first? I mean-"
"No no, don't worry about it," said Bowser. "Now come on, show me what you've got!"
Iggy sighed and walked forward. Ludwig tried to leave, but Bowser told him to stay and watch too, for some reason. Iggy supposed it could have gone worse as he blasted lightning and fireballs around the hallway, spun around at high speeds and even tried out a couple new spells. He finished with the biggest lightning blast he could manage, frying the tapestry hanging just above Bowser's head.
"Gwa ha ha, nice. You better be feeling that destructive when you face Mario," grinned Bowser, looking up at the burning cloth.
Iggy breathed a sigh of relief – he was pretty sure Bowser would approve of the wanton vandalism, but there was always a chance that he might take issue with the fact that it was his emblem being blackened. "Yeah, I'm really looking forward to fighting Mario again. In fact, I've been practicing my lightning blasts extra hard to-"
"PAPA! PAPA!" before Iggy could finish his attempt to fish out a compliment, Bowser Jr. came bursting into the room.
"Talk about timing! First Iggy missed Ludwig's presentation, and now you've just missed-"
"Papa! Look what I can do!" shouted Junior, cutting his father off mid-sentence in his excitement. Running right past Iggy and onto the raised stage the throne was on, he sucked in a deep breath and with a shudder, spat out a tiny fireball.
Bowser's face lit up and he beamed down at his youngest. "Firebreath! Already? Junior, that's awesome! Gwa ha ha ha! I see you're an early bird just like your old man, huh?"
Junior nearly squealed with delight. "I wanted to be just like you and have my firebreath come early, so I've been trying and trying to breathe fire for weeks!"
"And it paid off!" crowed Bowser, reaching down and scooping up the little Koopaling. "C'mere, let me tell you some tricks of the trade…"
Unnoticed by Bowser and Junior, Iggy turned and stalked towards the door, a dark scowl spreading across his face as soon as he was turned away from the others. He wanted to smash the doors open, but he knew he'd be in for it if Bowser saw him begrudging his precious little brother.
But it wasn't fair! Electricity powers take months and even years to master, but firebreath just happens when it happens – you can't make it happen earlier by trying. And yet Junior gets showered with attention for burping out a little fireball, while Iggy gets nothing. Nothing.
"I szought you did a good job," called Ludwig, hurrying after his brother.
"You're just saying that," snarled Iggy, rounding on the older Koopaling. Ludwig was older, but thanks to some recent growth spurts, Iggy was taller. But he knew that wouldn't last – soon Ludwig would catch up and probably pass him, and then he wouldn't even have something as paltry as height to his name.
"I am not," said Ludwig. "And Fazzer vould have said someszing too if Junior hadn't-"
"Yeah, he would've said I was good, but you're better! You're always better! Everyone's always better! Argghh!" Iggy seized a handful of his rainbow hair in frustration as he stepped back away from his brother.
"Zat's not true – you're zee best vit technology."
"That's only because you're not interested enough to study it too."
"Yes, and you have zat over me," said Ludwig, as always, trying to be the peacekeeper of the family. Even if the only one Iggy was at war with was himself.
"But you could do it if you wanted. Just once, I'd like to be special!"
"You are special!"
"No I'm not! You wouldn't understand! You're the most powerful – the best with magic and fire and lightning and Koopa knows what else, I'm sure!"
"It's not a competition-"
"Oh yeah? You weren't so cool headed when you found out King Dad was thinking of making Junior the heir."
"Zat's different," growled Ludwig.
Iggy smirked. There were few things that got under Ludwig's skin – and most of them had to do with music appreciation. But not this one. Iggy knew that Ludwig resented Junior hogging all the love just as much as he and the others did. Maybe even moreso since he had the most to lose – the Koopa Kingdom itself.
His work done, Iggy turned on his heel and stomped away. Ludwig didn't bother following this time, but as he turned to go his own way, Wendy sidled out of a shadowy side-corridor.
"Typical middle-child, isn't he?" she snorted.
"You're vone to talk," smirked Ludwig, walking down the hall.
"And what's that supposed to mean?" growled Wendy, putting her hands on her hips. "Ludwig?!" she stomped her foot impatiently and stormed after her brother. "Ludwig! Answer me! What - did - you - mean - by - that!?"
Iggy chuckled to himself as he put the finishing touches on his latest invention.
"So… what does this do?" asked Lemmy, peering into his brother's room.
"Shhh, close the door behind you!" hissed Iggy. He had half a mind to just tell Lemmy to get out, but then he might blab that the bespectacled Koopaling was up to something, and besides, of all his siblings, Iggy was closest to Lemmy. Of course, that was gonna change soon.
"It's a secret project?" grinned Lemmy. "Oh, or is it a surprise?"
"It's a surprise," sneered Iggy.
Lemmy rolled his ball up to the invention. There was a chair and a control panel with a couple video screens, which Lemmy guessed were taking feed from the cameras mounted on two arms sticking out backwards from the machine, and pointing back at the chair. There was also a shallow tub behind the chair, with a shower head suspended over it, and looking closely, Lemmy could see that the back of the chair was hinged. But what was above the chair drew his attention most of all: there were gleaming blades, mechanical arms terminating in scissor-like apparatuses, something that could even be a shaver and a spiky comb-like thing.
"Uhhh… What kind of surprise?" asked Lemmy unsurely.
"Oh don't worry, it's perfectly safe," said Iggy, pouring some acrid-smelling chemicals into the containers connected to the shower head. "For me, anyway – others' measurements might give it some issues."
"What are you talking about? What does it do?" demanded Lemmy, rolling between Iggy and the chair. The lanky Koopaling had been acting strange ever since Bowser had everyone demonstrate their skills to him, although most of the others didn't notice. Peach's birthday was a week away, and everyone was caught up in the final preparations – it was a wonder Iggy had even found the time to make an invention besides his Chain Chomp battle equipment.
"It's gonna make me a new man," smirked Iggy.
Lemmy's eyes widened in horror. "What do you mean?"
"Relax," said Iggy, trying to get past his brother to the chair. "Like I said before – it's perfectly safe. I'm just gonna get a new hairstyle, that's all."
Lemmy blinked. "Oh."
"What did you think I was gonna do," snorted Iggy.
"I dunno," shrugged Lemmy, feeling a bit foolish as Iggy brushed past. "But… why? Your hair's so cool!"
"Of course you'd say that – it's just like yours. And that's the problem."
"It's not just like mine – and why would that be a problem anyway?" protested Lemmy. Iggy's hair was always thicker than his brother's tidy Mohawk, and its colours were different too, with the pinks, blues and yellows all blending together, whereas Lemmy had distinct colour bands. It was close enough for Iggy, however – the Koopa family wasn't big enough for two rainbow-heads.
"I just wanna be unique, is all," he explained as he sat down. "Everyone else looks unique, and then there's us. Pretending we were twins was fun when we were little, but we're not fooling anyone anymore."
Lemmy sighed: the size gap did indeed make the "twins" story a stretch. But he wasn't giving up yet. "But still, you are unique."
"Not enough," said Iggy, flipping a switch. As the machine powered up around him, he continued his speech. "Ludwig's got brains and lightning powers too, Roy's a tank, Morton's star-faced and piebald, Wendy's the only girl, you've got your ball, Larry's got his perfectly normal everything – I mean, even my deficiency's not unique, seeing as Roy wears glasses too."
"Yeah, but SUNglasses."
"Close enough. When people think of me, I want to make sure they think of me, y'know?"
"No, I don't know. You are you – you're Iggy."
"But who is Iggy? One of the rainbow-haired ones? One of the ones that uses lightning? One of the smart ones? No, I want to be the one. And after today, I will be." Before Lemmy could try to stop him, Iggy activated the machine. A small arm flipped off from the back of the chair, wrapping around the Koopaling's head, just below the hairline. Immobilized, Iggy used the screens to guide the robotic arms around him, and with the first flash of metal, he cleaved off a shock of multihued hair.
Lemmy gasped as more and more hair fell to the ground around Iggy as the scissors and blades zoomed through the air above him. Once he had gotten enough off, he used the shaver to come in close and clean up his skull around the single column of hair left. Then it was time for part two, and at another press of a button, the chair flattened out, flipping Iggy onto his back and flopping his hair into the tub. The shower activated and Lemmy watched with dismay as yellow-green chemicals bled away Iggy's natural hair colours.
After a rinse cycle washed away the extra dye, Iggy pushed the next button and the chair straightened back up. A robotic hand reached down and lifted up his wet hair, and a panel of hot air blowers opened above the screens on the device and went to work.
"What is dis?"
Lemmy whirled around as Roy swaggered into the room. "Close the door – it's a surprise."
"Not anymore," groaned Iggy, watching his brother approach out of the corner of his eye, still unable to move his head.
"What did ya do to yerself? Ya look like a carrot!"
"Minus the orange part," pointed out Lemmy.
"Thanks for the support," snorted Iggy, looking at the feeds of himself on the screen. "I for one think it looks cool."
"Yeah? Well, yer crazy," guffawed Roy.
"Then I'll just reassert my position as the crazy one of the family."
"I think that'd be the bad kind of attention," said Lemmy.
"Whachu guys talkin' 'bout?" demanded Roy.
"Iggy wasn't feeling unique and special, since we had the same-ish hair, so now he's dyed it all green."
"It wasn't just the hair," protested Iggy.
"Bein' a rebel, are ya? Dat's coo', dat's coo'. 'Course, Pops's gonna kill ya when he sees ya. In fact… how long is it gonna take ta dry yer new leafy greens anyway? I 'tink it'd be funnier if Pops got here befo' you could even try ta run away…"
"Oh c'mon, Roy! Don't be a jerk!" whined Lemmy.
"Yeah, I wanted to make the reveal on my terms," protested Iggy, fumbling with the controls to try and get the machine to dry him off faster. "C'mon, Roy, be a pal for once!"
The pink-headed Koopaling scratched his chin thoughtfully. "Hmm… I dunno…" He then laughed cruelly. "Oh man, you should see yer faces." Still chuckling, he walked up next to the chair as Lemmy and Iggy eyed him warily. "Don't worry, I ain't gonna tell – on one condition."
"What?" the others asked in unison.
"Dis," said Roy. With one fluid motion, he reached down and seized a lock of yellow hair, pulled a container of crazy glue out of the hammerspace in his shell and yanked Lemmy off his ball.
"Hey! What're you doing!" squeaked the smallest Koopaling as he felt the glue squirt onto the back of his neck.
"I gotta have some fun," explained Roy as he jammed the shock of yellow into the glue and held his squirming brother in place while it set.
"What'd you do? What'd you do?" wailed Lemmy, finally breaking free and twirling around in circles, trying to see what had happened to the back of his neck.
"Here – here – use the cameras," instructed Iggy, calling Lemmy over next to him.
"Roy! What did you do?!" cried Lemmy. "I can't have a ponytail and a Mohawk: that doesn't work!"
Roy was laughing hard now. "It works fo' me! Bwa ha ha ha ha!"
"Oooh, you're such a jerk!" growled Lemmy. "And why'd you punish me? Iggy was the one doing something bad!"
"Hey!" protested Iggy.
"Naw, he ain't doing nuttin' bad. Just some'n stupid. But you, Lems, yer an accomplice. Dat's much worse."
"What? That doesn't even make sense!" said Lemmy exasperatedly.
"Whateva, I'll see you clowns at dinna," shrugged Roy, still snorting mirthfully to himself as he lumbered out of the room.
Lemmy sighed and looked back at the screens, reaching back and playing with the shock of Iggy's hair that was now attached to his head.
"I'm sorry about that," said Iggy apologetically. "I'm sure if you ask Kammy or Kamek they'll find a potion to dissolve the crazy glue."
"Maybe… But to tell the truth, I kinda like it. It's nutty and weird – just like me!"
Iggy rolled his eyes. "Just remember, crazy's my thing now."
Lemmy chuckled. "Okay, if you say so. But I think you should stick with technology being your thing – it's more flattering."
Iggy shrugged. "I suppose, but is it memorable?"
Iggy and Lemmy were late to dinner, but Bowser didn't worry: Lemmy was always losing track of time and Iggy often postponed coming down if he was in the middle of an experiment or whatever. Roy was acting a bit strange, but a good mood was better than his usual attitude, so again, no complaints from Bowser's end of the table. Junior was happily chartering to his siblings on about how many fireballs he had managed to spit out with Bowser's guidance that morning – for the third time that meal – when the doors were flung wide and Iggy strode into the room. All the Koopalings but Roy gasped at the green stalk sticking up above his head. Roy himself started cackling, and Bowser's eyes started bugging as he sat with his fork frozen in space in front of his open mouth, its forgotten food sliding off and plopping back onto the plate.
"IGGY! What did you DO?!" demanded Bowser, finally finding his voice.
The middle Koopaling puffed out his chest. "I'm turning over a new leaf-"
"Or a bunch of them – onto your head!" jeered Morton, with the other kids joining him in an uproar of laughter.
Iggy snorted. "I don't care what you guys think! My days of being Iggy the nobody are over! I'm a new man!"
Bowser sighed: he thought he wouldn't have to deal with this kinda moody rebel drama until the kids were teenagers. But at least it was just hair dye, and not a tattoo... "Whatever, just come and eat your dinner."
Iggy smirked, and started towards the table, his head high. It didn't matter how loudly they laughed – none of them even had the guts to do something like him. As if the green hair wasn't enough, the fact that he'd go and change his appearance like that already made him the most unique of the-
"LEMMY!" roared Bowser, catching sight of the smaller Koopaling trying to sneak in unnoticed behind Iggy. "What's that sticking out of the back of your head!? Not you too!?"