|This is a fan fiction by YellowYoshi398; please do not edit it. It is rated E10+ for violence. Comment and criticize here. |
Mama Luigi: Rebirth is a fan fiction by YellowYoshi398, inspired by the writings of Phil Harnage. It tells the tale of a morally-conflicted Luigi as he struggles for survival in a dystopian world he himself inadvertently created out of hatred.
Prologue: Life's Ruff
The inner workings of the computer hissed and ground, metal gnashing upon metal and the rising blue clouds of electricity still ever-present in the hallucinatory plumber's mind. Insanity raged his panicked form as it did to all who met his fate, though most are fortunate enough to recover. The truth is, the embarrassment had long washed off. Mama Luigi was hardly even a mistake by now, as most errors of this manner are quickly forgotten after a few short, painful laughs. But time, the endless funnel of downtime held in the addictive grasps of nerdy juvenile delinquencies, had fed this personae until it had mutated into that of Luigi himself, feeding off of him and destroying him. Try as he might, Luigi would never escape maternity, for any attempts would only fuse him further with this strange being in the end.
But as long-forgotten low-budget animation was revived with every stream of electrons that illuminated the phosphor dots of the cathode-ray tube, the man in green could not help but feel strangely happy. Even he had grown to love these humorous video remixes, in vain of how they had ruined him; in vain of the fact that, while his brother Mario was off risking his life on fame-garnering adventures in strange new kingdoms, he was collecting adipose on the home front; in vain of the fact that he had intended to retire for the day four whole hours ago...
Just as the small, gray disc had finished its journey from the west to the east and fully enveloped its light path in a bloody crimson, Yoshi - neglected for just this one adventure alongside his "mama" - nudged Luigi's door open with tired eyes. "Going to bed soon, Mama Luigi?"
Dual-faced Luigi's hidden smile, that of both satisfaction and insanity, was starkly wiped off of his face in place of a madman's scowl. He clenched his fists and approached the bane of his existence for what could have easily been the last time, only for the Luigi that once was to cool his ravaged counterpart. "Yes... right now."
Yoshi, who in his spacey happiness had paid no heed to the Jekyll-and-Hide confrontation, yawned contentedly. "Good night... Mama Luigi."
Luigi grimaced as his housemate toddled to his own room. Once his door was shut, he returned to his insanity. "Why has this happened... why? I was important! I was still important! I still am important!! Why?! I was never Mama Luigi, not to Yoshi, not to Mario! I was... I was..." Luigi clenched his head as if he wished for it pop under his unnatural adrenaline. He tried his best to retrace his life - he recalled his adventures in the Mushroom Kingdom, Subcon, the Mushroom World - he was respected - that was, until Dinosaur World. His humiliation at the hands of Yoshi had only helped him to grow unsure of himself, tucked away with the rest of his dark secrets... until the rise of the internet, until Windows Movie Maker, until SuperYoshi... Now no one could take Luigi seriously anymore, leaving him to rot at home while his brother stole the fame. Regardless, he hardly was Luigi anymore... one half would always be a reluctant mama.
Luigi began grinding his teeth, only to further clench them as his whittling resulted in an all-too-familiar wheeze. Something had to be done - the remixers had amassed an army, not to mention a strong viewership that was beginning to conquer two-faced Luigi himself. Besides, the little sanity the man in green had conserved would not allow him to destroy even the most violent and insensitive of children. No... Luigi's downfall had come much earlier, in the form of a gluttonous Yoshisaur who was on the very premises at the time.
Luigi arose with an eerily dissonant collectedness. His face displayed a dark, yet almost mischievous smirk, powered by forces much darker than those that had ever affected the unsure being that preceded him. As unknown as this figure was, if two things were certain, he was not the hero of the past... and he was not your mama.
Chapter One: A Blast From the Past
Luigi fell from the air with grace rivaling that of the mighty Chickadactyl, chuckling to himself as his cloak swished in the Enchanted Forest's stormy winds. He was amazed that, in all his balding portliness, he still had his famous jump; he still had the will to travel all the way to Dinosaur World and arrive just as dawn was breaking. It was as if he could leap into the air right now and transcend logic, joining Mario and heroism at the castle, an island, space; wherever they were teaming up at the moment. But Luigi's current location, not to mention the black cloak he had donned for the occassion, reminded him that this was not a possibility.
As he approached Wizardheimer's Haunted House, another shock came to Luigi when he realized he was not afraid. The once-heroic plumber had strongly feared the Magikoopa kind ever since one of them had incased him in an egg, and had developed a stark phasmophobia in his developing sociopathy. However, he was now deliberately approaching the most terrible Koopa Wizard in the entire Dino World, in an area dominated by Boos, and felt no fear. Hardly feeling guilt in his twisted mindset, Luigi assured himself he was no longer who he once was.
Rounding a group of sinister trees, the man in green came face-to-face with the front door of the Ghost House. Fearing nothing, he entered it... to find it completely empty. Not even the ghosts who had claimed the Haunted House were present, and the walls were starkly bare. "But there's still a wizard here tonight," Luigi reminded himself, hearing an all-too-familiar booming cackle echo from the bowels of the building's dungeon.
Following these loud vociferations, an undetected Luigi soon found himself quietly traversing the steps to the dungeon he had once so longed to climb towards freedom. But those were the old days, which Luigi forcedly swallowed as he laid sight on Wizardheimer down in the cold stone prison.
The terrible Koopa Wizard had aged even worse than his uninvitated guest, imprisoned in fat on all sides, his musty hat flopping over his eyes. He was - where else? - sitting at a desk, the last bit of furniture in the Haunted House, watching humorous video splices of his early days. His laughing, hoarse but as loud and prevalent as ever, was hysterical.
"Long time no see, Wizenheimer," Luigi taunted the aging Magikoopa, who came alive with anger.
"That's WIZARDHEIMER!" he coughed out of habit, before even taking sight of Luigi. "...And why in the Real World are you here? Can't you leave an old Koopa to his misery?"
The plumber glanced at the screen, recalling watching the very same video remix earlier today. "You don't look very miserable to me."
Wizardheimer, his haughtiness finally drained, diverted his head downward. "You know very well that the Koopa Troop demilitarized Dinosaur Land long ago... All gone; that is, everyone but me. Maybe they wanted to leave me to owning my precious Haunted House, my beloved Enchanted Forest; they very well might've seen me as useless after your interference." He briefly flared up before returning to the dismal subject at hand. "But either way, I was left alone. Even the Boos who kept me company in the loosest of senses have long gone on to bigger and better things, leaving me here."
"...To watch these," Luigi finished, pointing toward the ongoing video, consisting mostly of Wizardheimer's own exaggerated speeches played over at different speeds.
"They're... entertaining," the Koopa Wizard commented with a weak smile, which only further annoyed Luigi.
"Don't you see what's happening? Even I'm left behind these days! And NO ONE outside of these remixers even knows who Wisecracker is!"
"Ah, but is it? I've long grown to accept that I'm no longer 'Mama Luigi to you,' but a fallen hero, a consumed Caterpillar." Luigi nudged his flowing black cloak. "But now I'm completely new."
An annoyed Wizardheimer returned to his computer. "I don't have time for this nonsense."
"Look." Luigi approached the wizard. "The world has ruined us with their mocking. No one cares about us anymore. All your contributions to the Koopa Troop? They sure as heck don't care. Everything I've done for Mario and the Princess? They just laugh. Everyone's laughing, everyone but us. But we can't fight everyone... even we're beginning to laugh at ourselves."
Wizardheimer winced, moving his cursor towards the X on the rightmost top corner of the window as Luigi continued.
"I might be able to take the blame for all this. They've been hot on my tail pointing and laughing ever since that fateful day in 2004, but it's the truly viral disease that is Mama Luigi that's kept them going. It's ruined us... but I've pinpointed why."
Wizardheimer, his interest finally piqued, faced his companion.
"That Yoshisaur. He should've never happened. He was the one who declared me Mama, and the one who released Mario to ruin you. He is the cause of our troubles, our actions being forgotten. He... should have never, ever happened."
Wizardheimer brandished his multicolor wand as a scowl spread across his dark blue spectacles. "I think I see where you're going with this."
"Great minds think alike," said the man in green, shaking hands with the terrible Koopa Wizard. "You're a master at magic; at least I still remember that. Surely you know time travel?"
Wizardheimer smirked contentedly. "Got every spell in the book. I can take you whenever you want, wherever you want, you name it. Of course, I'll have to benefit from this, too..."
"Of course you will. I think you know very well I plan to eliminate Yoshi from the timeline - I will then truly no longer be Mama Luigi, and our infamy will dramatically decrease. Perhaps we'll even get our old positions back, a respected adventurer and a powerful wizard. I can't guarantee that, but anything's worth a try at this point."
"Well said," Wizardheimer responded, waving his wand. "I'll open up a portal to the past right now - Vanilla Dome, the day you arrived. Just a second..."
With a few mumbling chants and a geometrical blast from the worn-out rod, a blinding red mass of energy formed in front of the two. Wizardheimer turned. "Hop in here and get the job done. I'll be waiting."
Luigi nodded, and with another impressive leap he was jetting through the time-space continuum. Half-asleep by the end of the process, he was thrust down onto the very block ledge that had saved his life years ago.
"Luigi bash blocks now," the plumber sarcastically reminded himself, nearly starting another inner tantrum. But there was no time now - any second, Mama Luigi of the past would be tumbling down the nearby lava waterfall. Luigi rushed toward the ? Blocks, trying his best to remember which contained that elusive egg - it proved only a waste of time, as reasoning (outside of stunning, devious strategy) had left him alongside his old personna. He hit one block, and a coin fell out. Another block produced only another coin, which Luigi grabbed alongside its sister failure. Beginning to fear that history was doomed to repeat itself, the once-docile Luigi unleashed his inner rage, nearly destroying each of the blocks until the Yoshi Egg plopped into his arms. "Luigi find Yoshi Egg," he hatefully grimaced, looking down at the white oval whose red spots had ravaged his life far too long.
Soon, the familiar sound of cracking invaded Luigi's ears, and he clenched his teeth once more. He knew what he had to do - or at least what he wanted to do - and felt almost sad that he did not feel guilt. Grinding his teeth and shutting his eyes, he thrust the egg out into the boiling lava just as a muffled cry of "Mama?" broke out from within. But it was to no avail... Yoshi was gone, his body charred and melted somewhere at the lava pool's floor.
Collecting himself, Luigi smirked. "Mission successful..." There was a strange lack of sarcasm in the villainous plumber's voice, as if he sympathized with Yoshi. But no, he reminded himself, that foolish reptile should've known better than to destroy him. Trying his best not to break down, Luigi reentered the portal to his own time just as it closed around him. Meanwhile, a Skull Raft plummeted down the waterfall, depositing a confused plumber onto the ravaged block ledge...
Chapter Two: Hooked On the Brothers
Once more, Luigi plunged through nothingness and was nearly asleep by the time the portal spat him onto the Haunted House's rotting floor and closed for good. Arising to meet his partner, Luigi declared, "I'm back, Wizikre. The deed is done."
But Luigi was given no reply, not even a booming correction on the conceited Koopa's name. Indeed, Wizardheimer was no longer here - even his desk and computer had vanished. Luigi shivered as he wondered what the terrible Koopa Wizard could have done, what he himself could have done.
But the man in green once more tried to choke these fears in favor of his new-found evil. He ascended the steps out of the dungeon, only to see that the rest of the Ghost House was empty as before. Even the walls were still bare, and mustier at that. Luigi could see his own footprints on the dusty floor, and they were the only ones around... yet the plumber sensed a presence he hadn't before.
Luigi had just managed to turn around when a sinister Big Boo materialized right before him. Even Luigi's dark side was petrified as it let loose a horrible cackle, and the plumber had soon dashed all the way out to the Enchanted Forest of Illusion. "Things have certainly changed," he muttered to himself.
Reminding himself that he had just ended one more life than most Boos ever had, Luigi continued through the forest. He wasn't quite sure what to look for or expect - Had Wizardheimer scammed him or brought him to the wrong time period? Had he himself changed time and space more than he had planned? The man in green didn't have much time to think until he walked right into a hulking pair of Koopa Football Players.
"Well, well, well," one of them snarled, "looks like we got us a trespasser."
"Little idiot," the other continued. "You gotta wonder why these wimps even bother snooping around abandoned zones."
"Don't complain," his hulkish brother retorted. "We haven't smashed anything ever since we were assigned to this place!"
The two gave malicious smiles at Luigi, who could hardly rise to face them before being knocked away by their body slams. He hit a nearby tree and fell flat on the ground, groaning and lifting his head only to see the two Chucks charging at him again. Mumbling, he closed his eyes in fear.
"Why don't you Stoopas go pick on someone your own size?!" a familiar voice blasted from above. An excited Luigi, forgetting his pain, rose to see Mario - rough and dressed in tattered clothing but as heroic as ever - land right in front of him, posed for battle. The Football Players stopped dead in their tracks.
"Mario!" Luigi joyously greeted.
"Welcome back, Luigi," Mario replied, turning to his brother. "Now if you'll excuse me..."
Mario stomped the larger of the Chargin' Chucks, knocking him into his brother. The two attempted one last charge until a fearsome Spin Jump knocked them away. Landing with furtive grace, Mario helped his long-lost brother up.
"You don't know how happy I am to see you!" said Luigi, hoping that his interference with the timeline may have indeed ended up beneficial.
"Same here, Bro. It's been quite a while..." Mario spoke with cautious reverence, as if his brother was some sort of escaped prisoner of war.
"I'll say! Who'd have thought you were adventuring back in Dinosaur World all this time!"
"Huh?" Mario's confusion concerned his time-sick brother. "I've always been here, with the cavepeople. Even if we finally managed to restore the United Lands of Dinosaur World from King Koopa's tyrannical rule, believe you me, Bro., we wouldn't have abandoned you for all the pasta in the world!"
Luigi suddenly felt assured that his plot had succeeded - but only in that it had kept his brother fighting for freedom in Dinosaur Land all these years without Yoshi's help. He felt guilt begin to set in. "So, uh... how have things been... while I've been gone?"
"Not too good," said Mario. "The cavemen and I have been resisting ever since that fateful first day. We lost communications with the Mushroom Kingdom long ago... but we really need all the resources we can get to fight back that Doomship Kooky's so bent on modifying. Although Dome City's still, well, standing, we haven't been able to defend the rest of the kingdom; as you can see, it's all Bowser's now. I haven't even seen the princess since we were separated... did you ever see her down in the Neon Castle's dungeons?"
Luigi was sweating with guilt after this tragic monologue, knowing the undeniable truth that he was its cause, but that submission to darkness still thriving - though swiftly weakened - within him, told him to play along. "Um... no. We... uh, different cells..."
Mario looked down. "I see. Well, we better get going; the cavepeople'll be glad to know you're back! And... we'll probably have to get right back to defending Dome City. I manage to do patrols around Dino World here and then - like now - but you can't leave those cavemen alone for long. I've finally taught them organization and teamwork, yeah, but Koopa's starting to charge that Doomship at us daily..."
As Mario began to trail off, Luigi nodded. With weak smiles, the brothers dashed away... or at least the more fit red-clad brother did. Starting to realize that his time-traveling had not cut back on his belly, Luigi could only jog in the open as Mario stealthily jumped - so more furtively than Luigi had earlier, despite the latter's conceitedness - from tree to tree. As they reached the end of the Enchanted Forest (which had grown scrawny under King Koopa's careless reign), Mario landed in front of his sluggish Bro.
"Hey, Weege?" He said, trying not to sound pushy. "Think you could maybe... hurry up? We've got Cookie Mountain to scale and Cheese Bridge to cross, with Troopas everywhere and no trees to block you from-"
Luigi tried his best to smile. "I'll... I'll try, Bro. Just... gimme a second."
"Whatever you say," Mario replied, preparing to guard his weakened brother from any potential attackers. Meanwhile, Luigi stared back at the Forest of Illusion as he finally allowed himself to drown in guilt. In destroying Yoshi, he had destroyed Mario and Princess Toadstool as well, not to mention ruining his own life even moreso. He had been so blind... in this very forest long ago, in a time now doomed to never have happened, Yoshi himself had saved the man in green from Wizardheimer, with no idea that the seemingly benign plumber would one day team up with this sinister turtle to destroy the innocent Yoshisaur... Wizardheimer; why, Luigi... Wizardheimer... Wait! Wizardheimer!
Luigi turned to his brother. "Mario, I... I... I've made a lot of mistakes. I've done some really bad things, and they've had... really bad results. I feel terrible." The man in green let his now-tattered black cloak fall from his shoulders. "...But I've learned. I'm ready to abandon all that and help you... Help those I've destroyed... and I think I might have a solution."
Mario, not knowing quite what Luigi meant but feeling the greater good, nodded with a smile. "Okay, Luigi. Now, we really ought to get to Dome City..."
Luigi nodded, and soon the two brothers were off - each at an equal fast pace and furtive stealth, ready to meet and conquer the long journey ahead.
Chapter Three: A Little Learning
Luigi hadn't experienced so much joy in years. His feet, numb with swift happiness, carried him up Cookie Mountain, across Cheese Bridge, to Vanilla Dome, all the way, alongside his brother. Luigi scoffed at thinking himself fit before - looking back, the dark cloak that now lay at the entrance to the Enchanted Forest seemed so heavy. But it was not the cloak to which Luigi's concerned, choking sluggishness was attributable, but rather the evil it represented. The man in green was ready to fight for freedom and right his wrongs.
A part of Luigi still yielded to darkness, however. He wasn't sure how he would break his actions and their horrible results to Mario; he couldn't even verify if he'd be able to regain the old world he had destroyed alongside Yoshi. But Luigi kept this in mind as he dashed across the rickety Cheese Bridge, pining for some time to think.
Meanwhile, a pained creature stirred in the bowels of a far-off dungeon. His clothes, stained and torn, had the distinctive color of an evergreen at the end of winter, but his scent was far less refreshing. Left to rot in the stone prison for over a decade, practically phasing in and out of life had became all-too-regular for this dying humanoid, who was now attempting to drag himself toward whatever limited rations his jailkeepers had thrown at him today. Even this man's ability to think was almost completely drained, save for those rare moments when he could muster enough energy to lift his scarred head towards the cell across from him, and admire his fellow prisoner with her bright red hair still flowing hopefully after all these years...
By this time, Mario and Luigi had reached Dome City atop Vanilla Dome. It was a scathing testament to the latter's guilt, featuring war-ravaged houses and the scrawniest of cave people imaginable. Realizing he would have time to meditate soon, however, Luigi tried to take it the best he could, reminding himself that the town was at least still standing.
"Hey!" Mario announced to the hardworking cavemen. "Guess who's back!"
Soon the pair were surrounded by the cave-citizens, each delighting in broken English on Luigi's arrival. So many familiar faces - Luigi was sure he could make out Ooga, Aaga, and maybe even Oogtar near the back.
"Yes," Mario continued, "the other half of Super Mario Brothers Super Plumbing has finally returned from the Neon Castle. Not even King Koopa could hold 'im! There's so much to do... We'll have a dinner in his honor! Pasta, roast Chickadactyl, Egg Scoopa Koopas, you name it! Luigi is back!"
The crowd roared, their raspy voices only reminding Luigi of how he was the cause of their troubles. He tried to smile weakly at Mario. "Uh..."
"Right, right," Mario whispered, turning to his army. "Of course, that'll be tonight. Until then, we've still got a lot of work to do. Koopa could strike at any moment, so today we're manning the defenses knowing that Dome City's one ally stronger!"
One last cheer rose from the cavemen, who soon dashed back to their primitive weaponry. After a short period of silence, Luigi turned to his Bro. "Say, Mario... I'd really love to help with the defenses, but I've been... troubled ever since I got here. You wouldn't mind giving me some time to-"
"By all means, go ahead," Mario cut him off. "Bowser's Castle must've been traumatic. You don't only need time to think, Bro., you'll need days to heal! And don't you worry, we'll be fine."
Mario walked off to supervise the weapon repairs, leaving Luigi to wallow in guilt. Figuring his mind would be clearest alone, he looked for a place to retreat, soon noticing a familiar hole in the ground created by a fiersome Fire Sumo long ago. Giving one last glance at the barely-surviving town, Luigi hopped in, falling for hours to the innards of Vanilla Dome. "Where it all started..." said Luigi, noticing the lava waterfall on the horizon of a nearby magma stream. "Soon I'll end it."
Luigi walked along the stream, reviewing his plan. Wizardheimer's time-twisting abilities had helped him start all this, so couldn't they help him end it? If he could uncover where Wizardheimer was in this time period - he'd have to ask Mario - he could have him transport him back to that fateful day a decade ago and save Yoshi. Luigi peered down the waterfall and saw the block ledge, still standing if ravaged. He then wondered if his alterations to the timeline were permanent... If he went back with good intentions to the exact same time he had went back with ill intentions, would he encounter his black-cloaked self? Or, if he came to and left a time before he had gone back earlier this morning, how could he protect Yoshi from the inevitable attack of his evil form? He doubled over in pain, not understanding the rules of time travel. Too many Luigis...
As he keeled over, Luigi noticed a pile of bones at the edge of the waterfall. Chills went down his spine as he wondered if they were Yoshi's. Although he tried to remind himself that his body had most likely disintegrated down at the bottom of the pool, there was still something uncanny about these bones. Could they be Toadstool's? Nobody's seen her in awhile. No, they're undoubtedly just some ill-fated Koopa or Goomba... But... could they be Luigi's? He doubled over once more.
Nobody had seen the true Luigi of the past - Mama Luigi - ever since he was separated from Mario that first fateful day at Dino World. Luigi himself, in his dark black cloak, had removed Yoshi from the picture seconds before his Mama self of the past had plumeted onto the block ledge. His safe return to the altered present seemed proof enough that Mama Luigi was still alive somewhere out there, but perhaps Luigi's time-skipping had made him immune to such... side effects. Luigi gasped. Could he have killed himself in killing Yoshi?
A sweating man in green reviewed the facts. It seemed logical enough. Without Yoshi's help, Mama Luigi could've easily been eaten by Caterpillars or ripped to pieces by Koopa's Robots. Perhaps he really was merely seized and thrown into the Neon Castle, which would prove current Luigi's survival, but he just didn't know. He had no clue whatsoever how many Luigis were running around the time-space continuum, each trying to thwart the other. He had ruined himself. He had ruined the whole world.
The man in green arose in tears. His time to think hadn't made him feel any better per se, but at least it had vanquished some of the guilt. Luigi now knew what to do: Regardless of the complications involved in setting things right, Wizardheimer was the only shot for this world, and Luigi had to track him down. Of course, he would have to finally confront Mario and reveal his mistakes to locate the evil Koopa Wizard, but this was inevitable for the greater good. Finally ready to set things straight, Luigi began climbing a nearby rock formation...
Just as Vanilla Dome began caving in with an unearthly rumble.
Chapter Four: Rat Goo Spelled Backwards
Luigi was shaken off the rocky wall and dashed upon the stone floor as thousands of boulders erupted from the top of the mountain dome and crashed to its innards. For minutes he lay groaning in pain, only ever attempting to move when a falling boulder threatened his life. Whatever the case of this crisis was, though, he knew shrugging it off would mean death, and he quickly arose with a bruised moan.
Quickly but thoroughly searching the walls, Luigi spotted only one exit, a large crack on the eastern side of the mountain caused by excessive plumetting boulders. Knowing running would only make his likelihood of being hit greater, Luigi slowly crept toward this crack until he noticed that the accumulating rocks were sealing it by the second. In all of his pain and reason he instinctively dashed toward the crack, dodging few of the fortunately-non-lethal rocks that separated him from freedom. He dived toward the now-narrow crack in the wall and managed to escape the suicidal dome, plopping into Soda Lake a few meters below.
Luigi quickly turned around in the water to meet the cause of this disaster. Had some of the machinery malfunctioned? No, this was much more devastating - the Doomship Mario mentioned had returned! Just watching this stlightly archaic but sleek, modified mothership, especially in comparison to the cave-rebels' makeshift weapons, made Luigi wax hateful. But the Doomship was more a sign of King Koopa's one hate than his wealth - he was attacking Dome City, and devastatingly overpowering it!
Tears formed in Luigi's eyes as he watched the ensuing battle, which was clearly quickly ending with a Koopa victory. Several were dead... Several he knew... Several on a name basis (he noticed an injured Aaga mourning his brother Ooga on the battlefield)... and all of this was his fault. Had he only let Yoshi survive, they would've been able to fight off Koopa until their vacation was over, then draw him back to the Mushroom Kingdom - whatever it's like these days! - where they could contain him. They would've even left Dino World a better place, what with their wheel and party line... but now the man in green had doomed his brother to a future of aimless battles against Bowser with only sticks and stones.
As Luigi sobbed, his tears somehow definable in the lake's waters, he noticed the explosions were getting less and less frequent. Soon the last of them went of, and the Doomship silently retreated. As the smoke cleared, the plumber observed that Dome City, what little of it had survived the collapse of Vanilla Dome, was now completely flat. He wondered if there were any survivors.
His question was soon answered by a familiar - rougher but still grating - voice. "DOL-PHIN-BUNGA!"
Luigi turned around, treading water. "Oogtar?"
The infamous caveboy, now a young cave-adult, hopped off of his Dolphin into the water. "Welcome back, plumber dude!"
Luigi grinned. "You made it, Oogtar! ...Say, would there happen to be any others?"
Oogtar stared into the blue depths. "Oogtar coward. But Oogtar know when Oogtar over his head." The cave-rebel glanced at the steaming plain that once was Dome City. "Oogtar run off alone after... after..."
Luigi feared the worst. Oogtar met him with a solemn face. "Oogtar no know who else escaped. Oogtar leave when they capture Mario."
Luigi let out a small but striking stream, petrified at the idea of things coming full circle on his own family's fate. "N-no!"
"And nothing rebels can do. Survivors healing, you healing..."
Luigi lapsed further into guilt. "I... I don't need to heal."
Oogtar gave the man in green a concerned look. "Luigi just escape from decade of Koopa imprisonment. Oogtar sure Mario would understand."
"No. Even if it's just you and me, we're going after Mario. I... I won't let myself destroy any more of my friends..."
"...Oogtar game. Koopas take Mario up in Doomship, undoutedly going to Neon Castle dungeons..."
Luigi glanced at the sleak, escaping Airship - now just a dot in the sky - and began swimming ashore in its direction. "Then we'll intercept it before it even reaches the castle. Mario and I used to infiltrate those things all the time - we'll blow it up with ease!"
Oogtar seemed shocked at this last remark, but joined his friend with a duty-bound weak smile nonetheless. Soon the pair had reached the shores of Donut Plains, the Doomship now barely discernable among the clouds. Luigi squinted. "I don't think we're gonna make it..."
Oogtar tugged at the plumber's tattered sleeve. "Take Star Path. Oogtar and Luigi cut 'em off right at the Valley of Bowser!"
"Nice thinking," Luigi commented, rushing towards the Star Road on a nearby hill. Soon he and his friend were thrust off into the Star World in deep space, where they promptly dashed into the Warp Pipe to the Valley of Bowser. The heroic pair were deposited onto a cliff overlooking the Coney Island Disco Palace itself.
"Look!" Oogtar commented as Luigi pulled himself together. The Doomship, ever so fast by now, had already reached the subterranean valley and was emerging from Koopa's golden statue. Luigi was stricken as it hovered downward and crept toward the Neon Castle, never stopping or even deviating in speed once. Its archaic propellers and loose bolts were long gone, replaced by glowing repulsorlifts and uniform metal patches that almost dominated the once-wooden craft. Even its fiersome jet engines - now carrying channeled blue flame - were smaller and more utilitarian, yet lethally so. The sight made Luigi cringe in guilt, knowing that it was he who had forced Mario and friends to sacrifice the technology they had in hopes of fighting off this monster.
After a long period of awe, Luigi glanced downward to see Oogtar, solemnly cool, jogging towards an edge of the cliff the Airship had drifted particularly close to in its trek to the castle. Shadowing the caveboy, Luigi jumped, barely connecting with the Doomship as it continued lurching onward. He had already landed in a fighting stance, only to be confused at the sight of Oogtar continuing his demure dash across a completely empty deck.
By the time Luigi reached the dedicated cave-rebel, he had already entered the lower halls of the ship, standing with the coldness of stone in a main hallway. Strangely sensing no Koopas nearby, Luigi slowly walked toward the caveboy. He was staring at a door to the right in a silent trance. Luigi nudged him on the shoulder, whispering, "Isn't that the engine room?"
Oogtar turned to him with determined but somewhat watery eyes. "...Yes. Mario there," he said, pointing toward a door on the left wall. Luigi nodded, but Oogtar was off before he could do so. Excited to rescue his brother so easily, Luigi quickly followed, but he couldn't help but be concerned about his ally. As he opened the door to the prison cell, he gave one last glance at the engine room gate, below which a strange blue glow seemed to be cast...
Luigi hopped through the door, landing in an even stronger fighting pose. "Okay, Koopa Stoopas! Release my brother!" But no Stoopas were around. Just another uncannily clean room, completely devoid of life save for the sleeping red plumber in its tiny cell.
"Luigi no know?" said Oogtar, walking towards Mario's cell. "Doomship went fully automated way back. Mechkoopas patrol halls now and then, but most never leave cockpit. Koopa's way too soldier-greedy to dedicate any to daily attacks, access to Dark Land or not."
Luigi briefly stood still, letting a chill run down his spine as he realized the only organic life onboard the Airship consisted of this room. It was stark to think that so much firepower could be completely automatic and, in the long run, defenseless against attacks such as this. Oh well, at least it made it all the more easier to free the waking plumber in red...
"Ungh..." Mario groaned, his tired, bruised eyes raising to see the blurry lifeforms before him. "Bowser... you'll pay..."
"You bet he will, Bro.!" Luigi announced, bringing his brother to his senses. He immediately sprang to life.
"Luigi! Oogtar! You're alive!"
"You bet, plumber dude!" Oogtar said as he routinely punched right through the key card box on the cell's edge, opening the barred door which enclosed the fading superstar.
"Thanks, guys!" Mario complimented as he emerged from the cell. "Now, how did things go back at Dome City?"
Mario's only response was a glance to the ground from Oogtar. "I see... Well, if you know..."
Oogtar the caveboy looked up at Mario, more solemn but willing than ever, and took the words right from his mouth. "Oogtar and Mario Bros. destroy Doomship. Buy rebels time to repair."
Mario placed his hand on Oogtar's shoulders. "Good man, Oogtar. Let's roll."
Soon the two were off, leaving Luigi to catch up once more. When he reached the engine room, he found Mario and Oogtar staring in all-too-familiar silence at the Airship engine of the 21st century: a huge column of glowing blue energy, distributed around the vessel by transparent pipes and wires. "What... What is this?"
Mario turned to his brother as Oogtar remained motionless. "I'm surprised you don't know, but I guess Koopa really isolates his prisoners from even his own advancements. Anyway, things have gotten a lot more... complex since you left. You can't just throw a few Bob-ombs down a pipe to blast one of these things out of the sky anymore..." Mario turned to Oogtar, a tear in his eye.
Luigi gasped. "Are you trying to say...?"
Mario looked down as Oogtar was finally shaken from his trance. "Concentrated power beam strong. No can obstruct with anything smaller than... weaker than... anything other than... human being."
Luigi took a few small steps back as his eyes widened. Oogtar looked even more concerned. "Luigi no worry. Oogtar going. Rebels need Mario Brothers."
Luigi broke out into tears. "That's just what I was worrying about! It's... it's not worth it! I should go!"
Mario approached Luigi, but his depressed eyes stayed on Oogtar. "Luigi, Oogtar and I planned for this situation long ago. In fact, Oogtar himself planned for this, making every consideration and knowing you have to do what you have to do. He's a trooper, a real hero, and we shouldn't hold him back..."
Oogtar nodded, pointing to the door. "Mario brothers go on. Oogtar obstruct energy beam before landing."
After a long sigh, Luigi finally nodded. "Goodbye, Oogtar."
Mario resonated. "We won't forget you."
Soon the brothers were rushing out the door and plunging through the Doomship's Warp Pipe exit. Just as his vision was engulfed in dark green freedom, Luigi managed to take one last glance at Oogtar through the open engine room door, thrusting his own dissolving energy into that of the ship...
To be continued