Disclaimer: I don't own the Mario series, and I don't even own the overall plot and half of the dialogue: it comes directly from Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story.

Author's Notes: There were many things I loved about Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story – Bowser, Fawful, reading between the lines of the dialogue… However, there was one thing I really hated: the wacky biology. Besides Mario, my other love is zoology, so the canonization of Bowser's internal plumbing as they're depicted in this game made me cringe. Before it came out, I decided that in my fanon, it would be nothing but a big hallucination, even the block people, and I would write a parody retelling of it. But once I actually played the game, I liked it too much to simply hand-wave everything, and while I still wanted to nix the pseudoscience, I decided to do so in a way that made the story more serious, not less. And that brings us to this fic: a retelling of M&L3 using as much of the actual dialogue as possible (as I played through the game, I copied it all down, and used LuckySevenDX's YouTube "Let's Plays" to refresh my memory and double-check stuff as I wrote the actual story), with some added new spins and insight into the events, and the more RPGish elements strained out in the name of narrative. I hope you like it!

Mario & Luigi … and Bowser

Today is the day… of win!


Cackletta, are you hearing me?

Have you the seeing of what Fawful is done?

A plan of greatness, like the tuna that eats the salty sardines and grows HUGE. After you had the defeat, I have been collecting the salty beans. My plan was the waiting. Time was biding. Beans. Many beans were accumulate. The plan takes the long time, but now it has no hunger. It has the nourishment. Now it is huge like the tuna fishy of sandwiches. The plan, it is greatness in all ways! It is the tuna of doom for the Mushroom Kingdom! Rurururururu!

Cackletta, be watching me.

Today, Fawful has the ruling of the world.

Chapter 1: The Test

There are three kinds of Stars that watch over the Mushroom World. There's the regular Stars – the ones that start out as Star Kids and become Stars and grant the wishes of the kind-hearted mortals below. Some Stars go on to greatness – they become Star Spirits, oversee the wish-granting, and keep order amongst the Stars. There are the Stars that have fallen to the land, and grant powers to those that find them and use them. These "Starmen" are born in the Star World like the rest of them, but they do not think and feel like other Stars – they're not men at all, really. Opposite to them are the last kind of Star – the Star Sprites, who do not grant wishes, but who tend to the more difficult matters of the heavens and the world below. They are the guardians who can take on different forms and fight, solve puzzles and even live amongst the mortals. The wisest among them are called Sages.

Just as the Star Kids hope to rise to the rank of Star Spirits, so too do the Star Sprites dream of becoming Star Sages. But it is not an easy task. If great powers are bestowed upon the wrong being, it could prove disastrous, and so aspiring Sprites must prove themselves before they can even be considered for Sagehood. Most Sprites are never even offered the opportunity, for ordeals that could truly show a worthy heart are few and far between, even in the Mushroom World. Most Sprites don't seriously think their calling will ever come, and simply study and work hard for the sake of a job well done.

Starlow certainly never thought she'd be tested. When her mentor Wisdurm asked her to help the Mushroom Kingdom with a nasty plague, she didn't once suspect that something bigger was about to unfold. She just figured she was given the Blorbs case because she had a good rapport with Wisdurm – the Sage liked her spunk, and appreciated how hard a researcher she was. A bookish girl, Starlow read long into the night looking for a way to cure the Blorbs, but she didn't have much luck, and drifted off into an uneasy sleep about swollen Toads, dragonfire, and red, glowing eyes in the dark.

"You're going to be laaaaaate."

Starlow jerked awake at Wisdurm's voice. "Huh? Wha-?"

"The meeting's about the start down in Peach's Caaaaastle," said the Sage. She was in her butterfly form, as always. Starlow couldn't even remember back to a time when Wisdurm still looked like a Star Sprite: she had found her true form decades ago and never went back. Most Sages did, sooner or later, be they animals, one of the anthropomorphic races, or even inanimate objects. Another Sage had once come back from an adventure with Mario with a new form as a wooden Geno doll, even adapting it over his given name. Wisdurm had a different, given name as well, but she wouldn't tell Starlow what it was: she said it was an ugly name. Starlow couldn't imagine changing her name or looking like anything but what she always looked like – she wouldn't even know what to do as a Star, without her sprite's feet or her flashing star-shaped headpiece…

Wisdurm frowned: Starlow was getting lost in her thoughts again. She had a long night, so it was understandable, but she really did need to come back down to earth. Literally. "Yoooou're. Gooooing. Toooo. Beeee. Laaaaate." She repeated.

This time, it clicked.

"LATE!" yelped Starlow, shooting into the air. "Oh, what an awful first impression! And I was so looking forward to meeting Peach and Mario and Luigi… Why didn't you wake me up earlier!?" she snarled.

Wisdurm blinked.

Realizing what she had done, Starlow's face paled. "I- I mean- I didn't mean it, Madam Wisdurm. I'm so sorry!"

Wisdurm laughed. "Don't worry about iiiiit. But other Sages might not take so kindly to being snapped at, so you might wanna watch your temper a liiiiiittle."

Starlow sighed. "I guess. I doubt I'll have to worry about bumping into any Sages while I'm down there, but I suppose I should play nice with the surface-dwellers too."

"Princess Peach shouldn't give you any trouble anywaaaaay. Even if you aaaare late…"

Starlow yelped again. "Late! Oh no! How could I forget I'm in a hurry! Again! Why are you distracting me!? Argh, I'll never get there in time now!"

"Good luuuuck!" Wisdurm laughed as Starlow zoomed past the butterfly and headed for the nearest Star Road back down to the surface. But as her pupil disappeared around the corner, Wisdurm's face grew somber. Soon, being late would be the least of Starlow's concerns, but it was the only way. Her test had begun, and the fate of the world now rested with her, Mario and Luigi… and Bowser.