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6 yrs ago
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The Koopa Troop

wordcount: 6,769 (+8 (+6 from last)(for Bowser and Kamek only))
Bowser: Level 12 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (213/120)
Bowser Jr: Level 12 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (89/120)
Kamek: Level 12 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (88/120)
Rika: Level 7 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (85/70)
Location: The Under - Home of Tears

After they’d set up the auction Bowser and Kamek ended up with some time on their hands. The kids were still off on an adventure, one that the mage was quietly following the progress of using a wisp scout, so they had time. As part of that supervision, Kamek was aware of the help wanted board, and had something of an idea of what they might be able to get up to till they got back.

Or rather what they should do.

”I do believe the absence of a helper might be our fault, given we have taken possession of a man who might very well have filled that role” the mage told his king, still under the impression Jesse had said man in her possession, and perhaps making a rather baseless (maybe even egocentric) assumption given the size of the city. Heedless of these things however, he still suggest that ”Perhaps we should help them out?”

”I dunno…” the king said as he peered at the the notice board ”I am pretty scary looking after all”

”Only to your enemies, to your people you are a reassuring pillar of strength I assure you” Kamek replied, having not exactly expected that to be his king’s objection, even if it made sense in hindsight, but finding a counter to it with relative ease.

He got a grunt of response, which he knew to interpret as a wordless thanks, and then an agreement in the form of ”You know what, I’ve done enough fighting and dealing with weird complex auction houses stuff, I think I deserve to do something easy with the rest of the day, yeah?”

”Or .. maybe not easy, but different” he corrected himself, knowing full well that kids could be quite the handful. Either way, with that decided, they set off to find the orphanage to see if they could help out some kids have a fulfilling evening.

The two ultimately found their destination near the northernmost part of the Collection, on one of the islands directly adjacent to the one with the bridge that connected this district to Fountain Central. Standing on higher elevation than the surrounding islands, the building stood out like a sore thumb against the Home of Tears’ typical architectural style, with gray stone brick and rusty-colored metal rather than interlocking blue shells and silvery wrought iron. Warm light streamed through its windows down on a rather forlorn, rain-battered yard with meager vestiges of long-ruined playground equipment. Compared to the much bigger bridge nearby, the one leading to the Orphanage seemed both far less traveled and well-kept. After splashing over that path’s loose cobbles and perilous potholes the Koopas climbed up some steps and made their way to the front door, where a couple loud thinks of the heavy metal knocker announced their presence.

Instantly they heard a chorus of excited shouts, the voices of at least a dozen children. From behind the door the sounds were muffled, but they could still make out a frenzy of running feet. It soon gave way to the slower, louder thump-thump=thump of heavy footfalls. A moment later, the door unlocked, then swung open. In front of Bowser and Kamek stood what looked like a huge stuffed toy, at least five feet in height and barrel-shaped, with polyester stuffing poking from the spot where its right arm might have once been. Primarily pink in color, it featured a lime-green heart on its chest, a halo, and cross-shaped eyes just above a big zipper that resembled a crude, somewhat menacing mouth. In fact, its entire appearance -though outwardly cute and huggable- exuded a creepy undertone, particularly given its size. By looking a little closer, the two visitors could also see a dozen pairs of eyes locked onto them, some wary, some shining with excitement, and all belonging to the children of the orphanage as their peered out from doorways, behind corners, and around furniture. They could see an orange critter, a young kobold with a fluffy tail, a masked goblin kid, a tiny Zora girl with her plush fish toy, a pair of child spectrobes, a whole quartet of Kaka Kittens, and more. Every one of these kids seemed to be hoping beyond hope that today would be their lucky day. Trying to ignore their excited whispers, the mascot-looking creature took up a little sign from a table beside the door and held it up for the visitors to see. It read: ‘Hello and welcome. How can I help you today?’

The two of them glanced at each other, clearly a little put off by the strange creature, but seeing the children they remembered why they were here, and why they were needed. Well, mostly remembered, as Bowser immediately floundered on one of the details when he began by asking ”Hey there, we’re looking for a .. for a uh”

”Dr. Natasha” Kamek supplied helpfully

”Right. We’re looking for a Dr. Natasha? We’re here to help out for the evening” he concluded.

After a brief moment spent looking between the two, the mascot creature nodded, then gently beckoned the two to follow it inside the orphanage. It led the way down the hall, plodding slowly past the staring children who shrunk away as Bowser drew near by slid out of their hiding spots to follow at a respectful distance. Though a little let down by the news that the Koopas had come to help care for them rather than adopt, the kids seemed happy nonetheless to have someone there to see them. A few seconds later, the caravan arrived at the orphanage's main common room. It was full of couches and beanbags arranged around a TV and dim fireplace, with a few well-used toys here and there, carefully collected into bins to keep the place presentable. Corkboards and chalkboards took the place of paintings, covered with the denizen's scribbled drawings and misspelled letters. A staircase led up to the orphanage's other floors, and a red door stood next to it, labeled 'Natasha's Office' by a big crayon sign above the doorframe. This was where the pink monster headed.

"They're gonna talk to the boss!"

"Aw, how come we never get to see Miss Nat?"

"They're so lucky! Who are they?"

"Do-do-do you think they're gonna adopt one of us?"

"No, dummy, didn't you hear them say they're just helping?"

"Hey, that's still good, you meanie!"

As the other kids whispered and jostled, the nervous little goblin reached up and bravely tugged Bowser's hand. "Um, mister?" He asked, shaking a little as he turned his mask upward to look at the looming giant. "Miss Nat never comes out of her office, so…when you see her, can you give her a hug for us? Please?"

Once the mascot led the visitors into the office, they found themselves in an empty room. There were no windows or other doors, and only a couple articles of furniture. After they entered, the mascot slowly closed the door behind them, then with a click, locked it shut. Without a word, it circles around toward the desk, turned to face them, and then dissolved into a burst of static.

In the creature's place stood a beautiful human woman, with pink eyes, turquoise hair in a ponytail with loose strands across her face, and a mole by her lips. She wore a white dress of a curious style, with several vials of a green liquid worn almost like accessories, and a teddy bear hanging from her waist. Though not that old all things considered, she possessed a distinct motherly air, and her eyes and smile were both gentle and kind. She carefully pulled her headphones off and placed them along with her cassette player on the desk.

"Please forgive my deception," she began, her voice soft. "The poor darlings of this orphanage are all monsters who've lost their parents to humans. I fear the sight of one would upset them. So I rely on this to assume forms that are more comfortable for them. Like Mascotoy, which you saw. The kids name them, they call me 'Stuffy' when I'm in that form." She smiled, giving a light, chirping laugh. "And Burnie, when I'm Spitzfyre. Oh, but forgive me, I always end up babbling. I'm Natasha." She clasped her hands together. "Doctor by day, caretaker by night. Knowing what I am and what I'm doing, are you two still willing to help?"

”Even in a city of monsters, humans still are everywhere it seems” Kamek commented, intending it mostly as a joke, though he did also think it was an odd state of affairs, what with their own world containing only slightly more than a cities worth.

”That is to say, that won’t be a problem Doctor, right?” he then clarified, before glancing at Bowser. The king, for his part had his brow furrowed, and was deep in thought, before coming to a conclusion entirely unrelated to the matter at hand, but which was an answer to it all on its own anyway.

”You probably get a bunch while in disguise, but the kid did ask so” he said, as he stepped forwards and offered her the hug he’d been requested to give her for all her hard work.

“Oh, goodness!” Too tired from a long day’s work to exclaim with any real sense of alarm, Natasha found herself swept up in a titanic embrace. Though wary and on edge at first, she realized what was going on, and relaxed somewhat in Bowser’s strong, albeit comfortable arms. She even found it in herself to squeeze back a little. Once the two stepped apart a moment later, she didn’t even pause to fix her hair, but flashed the two Koopas an appreciative smile.

“Thank you both. I’m so grateful.” She turned to her cassette player and began to switch the tape out. “Well, you’ll get a chance to help right away! I was just about to get started on dinner for everyone. We usually do a big soup to make the most out of what little we have, and give everyone the chance to pitch in. One of my monster forms helps out a lot.” After putting in a tape labeled ‘Cookie (Coaldron)’ with a handful of food-based stickers plastered all over it, she donned the cassette player. “I’ll head over to the kitchen. After you say hi to everyone, please come and join me. Try and make sure everyone feels included. Oh, but look out for the little troublemakers–Skull Kid and Peeper. They might try to play pranks. I’m still working on a way to do lessons, since none of my monsters can talk, so after dinner it’s usually playtime. But on the off chance you have anything to teach or stories to tell, please feel free. I hope you’ll try to get to know everyone, and help them out however you can. We’ll meet up again like this later on to go over the bedtime routine. Sound good?”

”Sounds like a plan” Kamek agreed, before glancing to the side upon hearing the chime of a bell, and seeing the mountain of scales that was his king had become a fair bit fluffier, as Bowser had turned himself into Meowser.

”Some of them seemed a little nervous around me, so I thought maybe this would help?” he said, scratching himself behind his head self consciously as he did so

”It can’t hurt, I’m sure” Kamek replied naturally, before saying that ”I have a bit of experience with teaching children, so I can see what I can come up with on that front”

After receiving confirmation, Natasha unlocked the door, pressed play on her cassette player, and transformed into a tall ceramic figure with a cauldron body. Hobbling from side to side on her stubby little legs, she exited the office room and headed for the kitchen. Immediately everyone set up a cheer, all pretenses of propriety dropped as everything turned to anticipatory chaos. Already the Koopas could begin to get a grasp of everyone’s personalities; the four super-energetic Kaka Kittens were always at the forefront, while the fluffy-tailed koboldling always hung toward the back in complete silence. The Zora was timid and often left behind, but sweet, while the cyclopean alien kid was an annoying loudmouth, never far from a mischievous woodland sprite. As eager as everyone was for dinner, they seemed even more interested in Bowser and Kamek, crowding around them and pushing one another around with all their voices going at once. Possibly due to Natasha being unable to talk as a monster, it seemed like the children here could use some discipline. It was time for the volunteers to introduce themselves.

”Alright children, settle down for just a moment” Kamek requested, sticking close to his king to avoid getting crowded too badly, before introducing them both.

”My name is Kamek, and I’m something of a wizard, while this now fluffy fellow is Bowser” the king gave a wave and a ”Howdy” the pair of them having agreed to not make any mention of the King’s royalty so as to keep things simple ”We will be taking care of you while your usual minder sees to preparing dinner”

”Now then, now that you know our names, how about we go around the room so we can learn who all of you are?”

”Mmm, and how about we start with you” Bowser suggested, pointing out one of the excitable Kittens so as to not leave them impatient, or startle the shyer ones,but fully intending to work though everyone.

As one might expect, the kittens introduced themselves in a cacophony of high-pitched voices laden with verbal tics, each trying to one-up and be heard over the others. Though it took some doing, the Koopas managed to assign each a name after a few moments: the one with the green bow was Cali-Kaka, Feisty-Kaka had the blue, Fluffy-Kaka had the orange, and Spotty-Kaka had the pink. The two troublemakers were quick to introduce themselves, the cyclops as Peepers and the hat-wearing flute player as Skull Kid, evidently thick as thieves. Up next was Small, the energetic orange critter. After introducing himself as Ugu, the young goblin also introduced the kobold as Ga Bu, since the little guy didn’t seem inclined to speak for himself. Tentatively the Zora introduced herself as Finley, after which the two spectrobes announced themselves as Zen and, confusingly, Zora. The two snickering Subling siblings gave their names as Pitch and Dark, though Skull Kid immediately whispered to Kamek that their names were actually Bailey and Jenny. That just left the timid Bakomon, with its entire body covered in cardboard, and Badogai the Baddinyan, who did his very best to look like a delinquent while speaking only a little more crassly than usual.

After that, though, everyone more or less stampeded to the kitchen. Coaldron-Natasha had already filled her basin with water from the sink and was in the process of boiling it, turning it into a delicious broth. Using monster power, it seemed, was an affordable alternative to electric power. At one end of the kitchen lay the door to the pantry, with a crayon sign on it that read ‘Don’t steal! We only have enough to go around if everyone shares!’, but the pantry door lay ajar. Inside, the shelves were almost bare. There was a little bread, a few packets of noodles, a half-empty bag of croutons, some garlic, lentils, carrot, celery, onion, and a few herbs and spices. In the fridge was some meat, mostly chicken but a little beef, as well as cheese. Unfortunately, there were also crumbs on the floor. Someone had already been in here, but for now none of the kids said anything. They began storming the pantry to seize whatever they could to tear up into morsels and throw into tonight’s soup. Some of them, naturally, would just try to eat whatever they got hands on, or start food fights by throwing whatever they didn’t like at other kids they disliked about as much. Voiceless and full of soup, Coaldron-Natasha would struggle to try and oversee everything on her own.

”Oh dear” Kamek commented very generally on the whole situation, while Bowser muttered that he ”Woulda brought food as well if I knew this was gonna be an issue” before doing his best to carefully wade into the mob without stepping on anyone, and act as something of a wedge to try and break up any food fights on his way to blocking the pantry so he could do the food hauling himself.

Kamek meanwhile took to the air atop his broomstick to get an overview of the mob, and then summoned a few hoovering toadies who could drop down, pick up a problem child to either deposit them in a seat or distract them via flying them around the room.

While most of the kids tried helping as best they could, they needed direction to prevent messes and actually accomplish anything. The Kaka Kittens in particular were enthusiastically trying to tackle cooking tasks that their big mitts made tricky, while the Spectrobes didn’t even have hands to help with. Naturally, nobody wanted to set the table, or even get out the utensils and bowls people would need. A few like Ga Bu and Finley just remained passively at a distance, not contributing. Among them were Skull Kid, Peeper, and Baddinyan. After whispering together for a few moments, they split up, and the troublemakers began to cause a ruckus. Peeper tried to take charge of the situation, bossing the other kids around with his loud, nasally voice, while Skull Kid added to the general uproar by playing his flute. While they caused a distraction, Baddinyan snuck around to the shelves and began climbing to get at the cookie jar.

”Oh dear, oh no” Kamek stammered in a little panic, as he tried to direct his minions to put out fires to little success while pinching his forehead. Then the king readjusted how he was thinking about this, and switched tactics and mindsets to that of a boss of mooks.

”Aright, listen up squirts, we’re going to have some order, so you can get fed sooner” the king said with a voice that commanded armies, before reaching a hand over and plucking Baddinyan from their shelf creeping and telling them mre parentally ”and eating sooner means desert sooner” before setting them down.

”Right then. Cali, Feisty, Fluffy, Spotty bowls and plates” he ordered the Kaka kittens, given those were big and more easily handel-able. ”Ugu, Ga Bu, and Finley, help with the food, Dark, Bakomon and Pitch cutlery” because they had more dexterous hands ”Zen and Zora, get the chairs in order” because they were all over and that could be done via handless pushing.

Next ”Peeper, direct traffic and tell me if anyone is goofing off” because it was a less disruptive way of him indulging his desire for power, and someone needed to stop the kids running back and forth from running into each other, ”Baddinyan make sure no one is trying to have dessert or uncooked food before dinner” because who better than a thief to catch, and finally ”Skull kid, give us a marching tune” for some musical accompaniment.

”Everyone got that? Good, then let’s get to it!” he declared, leaving himself and Kamek as overarching supervisors. Right away the Kaka sisters hopped to it, racing to see who could set most places. Ga Bu did not want to help with preparing the ingredients for the stew, but he also didn’t resist when Ugu and Finley tried to coax him into it. Even Natasha helped as much as she could, gentle nudging things -and kids- into place. Pitch and Dark combed the kitchen, collecting every last spoon they could find and passing them to Bako to hold; once they had enough, a jet of steam from Natasha pointed them in the direction of the sink, and the Sublings started washing spoons that Bako then took to the table. Peeper kept bossing and pushing his peers around, and Baddinyan abused his appointment as Cookie Guardian to sneakily help himself, but on the whole the motley crew’s efforts turned a lot more focused and productive. All the while, Skull Kid’s lively playing permeated the whole place, channeled into something constructive rather than denied.

Kamek face-palmed at the decision to put a thief as a guard, but otherwise was rather impressed with his king’s handy work, while the king himself grinned self-assuredly.

Bit by bit the Coaldron filled with ingredients, boiling and simmering until the broth turned a rich greenish-brown, full of vegetables and strips of meat. Knowing the next step, everyone grabbed a bowl from the table and lined up in front of Natasha, jostling for position. She poured out bowlfuls of soup for everyone, including her new helpers. While the bigger kids might need more sustenance, any perceived sign of favoritism would cause issues, so she did her best to dole out equal portions.

All too soon the Coaldron was empty, and as the kids returned to the table to eat Natasha tottered off toward her office. Once hidden within she changed again, and a few moments later returned as a Spitzfyre. Her arrival provoked a chorus of cheers and delighted squeals among most of the children, even the cats, some of whom even left their dinners to rush the goggle-wearing dog down and stroke her fluffy fur. “It’s Burnie,” Finley explained for Kamek and Bowser. “Once we all finish our food, it’s time to play!” She then dug in, supping her soup as fast as she could, and the rest more or less did the same. Burnie sat by the table and waited patiently for everyone to finish.

Bowser, unsurprisingly, finished first given the size disparity, but having seen the state of their larder he did not complain (though his stomach certainly did), while Kamek slowly worked his way through the soup with a speed befitting his age, which at least took the pressure off of any of the slower kids with whom their impatient peers might take issue of their own pace.

“Where are you guys from?” Zen piped up after a few moments. The fiery little monkey’s eyes were wide with curiosity. “Never seen monsters like you before!”

Zora curled up by his bowl with his legs tucked underneath him, looking like a fluffy ball of wool. “Oh, they’ve gotta be from outside! What’s it like out there?”

“Yeah, tell us! Tell us, tell us!” the Kittens chimed in.

”Well, I mean that depends on what bit of the outside you wanna hear about, because we’ve been around a bit. If you just mean outside the city, well then … we’ve been to where the rain comes from” Bowser said, deciding that was maybe a good place to start

”It’s this huuuuge lake inside a massive cavern, and it's got these ancient trees going from these little sand banks alllll the way up to the ceiling. We had to climb down one and it took ages”

”But we’ve also been outside too,” he added, before emphasizing ”I mean really outside, above ground, under the blue sky. Been to a few places on this donut of a world. There’s Alcamoth, which we’re calling home at the moment, which is a city that floats. In the air. Very, uh, white, and with big domes. It’s in this place called the Land of Adventure, that apparently changes every week. New landscape, new creatures, new everything.”

The King wasn’t it had to be said, the best wielder of descriptive language, but he was happy enough to answer questions, and did try his best, even if it was unlikely he could paint a picture with words that could really convey what it was like beyond to these kids who had likely never seen anything beyond their rainy city. At least, not that they remembered anyway.

It was a thought along those lines that gave Kamek pause for thought, the mage wondering, if this world really had existed for far longer than they thought, then where, there children who had been born into it? Perhaps even ones who were children of more than one world. And if so, what would happen to them, if they managed to set everything back to the way it was.

It was a concerning thought, but one blissfully absent from Bowser’s mind as he tried to explain what things were like outside, as well as going and talking about the many strange and wonderful kingdoms that had existed back in their universe.

Most of the kids listened with bated breath as Bowser filled their heads with fantastic images, painting a vivid picture of the skies and seas that underworlders like them could only have ever dreamed of. Even Natasha found herself entranced. Though she possessed distant memories of the crisp blue heavens and the feeling of cold wind on her face, it felt like a lifetime ago. These tales made her homesick, bringing her back to the childhood she herself spent in an orphanage underground before adoption by her overworld family. Losing the sky, the snow, the breeze, and the fresh air all over again hurt, but her heart went out to these poor children who hadn’t the slightest idea what they’d been missing all this time.

When the stories came to an end, playtime began. Interested as the kids had been, none of them had neglected their food, and when Burnie started barking and performing a play-boy the children stuffed in their last couple spoonfuls of lukewarm soup and raced to join in on the fun. In no time Ugu, Pitch, Dark, and Finley were all perched on the Spitzfyre’s back, riding her as she ran around in playful pursuit of the squealing Kaka Kittens, chased in turn by the young spectrobes and Baddinyan. In that fashion they ran all around the orphanage, through its halls, up and down its stairs, and around the common room. The Spitzfyre even consented to chase and fetch a thrown ball, humiliating as that must be for her. Skull Kid and Peeper went off to entertain themselves. When the kids were tired of exercise with Spitzfyre, they settled down in the main room to play with what few toys and games the orphanage possessed, but most of the focus lay on Bowser and Kamek. “C’mon, play with us!” the kittens chorused, hoping their new friends could offer them something fun and new.

”How about a magic trick” Kamek offered, which got a ”Huh,” from Bowser who had thought they’d be doing something else before the mage floated up and whispered a plan into his ear, which earned the mage an ”Oooooh” of understanding from his king, who then hurried to pop into the good doctors office to get his jacket.

While he did that part, Kamek asked ”Now then, could one of you get me a blanket, or a bedsheet, or something of the sort? I’ll need it for the trick. And neatly please, it will have to go back after after all”

The children were off like lightning, scattering in all directions to find and bring back the requested item. Within a minute several groups returned with blankets, working together to drag them along the ground. Small and Ugu ended up riding on a sheet pulled by the spectrobes, although once the Kaka Kittens saw that all four dropped their blanket in order to jump on it for a ride, leaving theirs stopped in its tracks. With Zen and Zora weighed down, Bako pulled ahead with a patched-up quilt thrown over her shoulder, and after reaching Kamek first she offered it to him. That left Pitch, Dark, and Finley in second and third place, though they all seemed too interested in the Magikoopa’s trick to really care. Spitzfyre-Natasha helped pulled the squealing kittens over on their blanket to join the group, and everyone crowded around to see Kamek work his magic.

All that excitement kept eyes conveniently off of Bowser, who shuffled back in just in time to help Kamek run a bit of sleight of hand combined with actual magic.

The children had seen the koopa float, of course, so but now he pulled out all the stops.

”Now, you might not know this, but today is a day of change, or so I have heard. When children both good and bad, get what they deserve.” the mage said with rhyme, as he crafted wisps out of magic to fill the room with glowing motes, and using the same magic he used to color shift his clone to change their hue as well, though that was all the effect it had.

”But that is jumping to the end of the story
And we’ll get back there soon, don’t you worry
Now this city of yours, did you know it once had a king?
his kindness and courage, the people would sing
Yet because of those both, he had to leave for reasons most dire
To tend to the cities roaring inner fire”

As the mage spoke, he made the wisps dance through the air, having them form together to form crude depictions of the tale he was spinning.

”And once he was gone, an imp crept on in
Nasty and rotten and rude as sin
Was he human or swine, or something even stranger?
All I can say, is that to tell him now would have been a great danger
For his tantrums where cruel and creepy
While his minions they were ever so sneaky
Yet the king, still gone one day made some friends
And to them he put the task of fulfilling some ends”

A small horde of colorful whips descended into the room from above, having snuck up into the ceiling while the kids where looking elsewhere

”they snuck down into the city, under cover of night
Ready and willing to fight the good fight
First they made a new ally, atop a great tower
And from him learned the secrets of their foe’s power
First they sniffed through the streets to find the pigs minions, who hid in the dark
And faced them in battle, though for them that was walk in the park
Then into his castle, they strode without fear
Knowing by the next day, all would have reason to cheer
Some went high, and others low
Ready to take part in a two part show”

The ‘fights’ as they were, were a combination of glorified pushing matches, yet by swooping to and fro, they wisps manage to make their conflicts rather dynamic.

”up in the tower, they fought a great battle
One in which the pig thought he would slaughter them like cattle
For control over time, that tyrant did wield
And against that power, there is no shield
Yet with their determination and brawn,
The heroes soldiered on
And with all the strength of a storm
They forced that pig to reveal his true form”

The whips dashed to and fro, the rainbow of warriors facing down a much larger purple foe.

”the battle after that it went on and on
But in the end the pig refused to sing a swan song
Down into the depths, that coward did flee
Yet deep down below, his fate he would see
For they heroes had known, of his little hide away
A place where the pig thought he could stay
Safe and snug, with ill gotten gains
Yet instead what he got was yet more pains
Together, at last they banished him from the lands
And so at last the king could know peace, in his exiled sands”

The large purple whip was ejected by the others, tossed through a window and into the rain, as had been the fate of all those defeated by the heroic wisps, before said heroes returned to bobbing around above the children’s heads as Kamek brought the tale to a close.

”Which brings us back to children getting what they are owed
And the point, dear children, of the story told
You see to steal from your people, that is something quite nasty
But to steal back from a thief, well, about that let's not be hasty
For that pig had taken treasures, oh yes he did
And down in the depths, was where they were hid
Gold and jewels, and yes, even toys
All taken away from good girls and boys
Yet rather than be used for what they were meant: play
These toys dear children where all locked away
And of these toys the heroes knew what should become
Because there were kids not at all like the pig who really deserved them”

”and do you know who those kids are?” Bowser asked, having made plenty of use of the distracting performance to slip some things under the bed sheet they had retrieved at the beginning.

”Well, how about we see?
What these heroes have brought for thee?”

Kamek asked, before, whipping a wand towards the little lump in the bedsheet, the ‘heroes’, the colorful whips, swooping towards it as he did so, and then spiraling around and around it as the lump grew and grew, larger and larger before their very eyes, before they all suddenly vanished up into the ceiling, leaving behind a great mass barely covered by the sheet.

”Go on” Bowser told the children, urging them to unwrap the gift from the ‘heroes’

For a few moments, everyone was silent. Their wonderment and amazement at Kamek’s incredible visual performance and accompanying verse had given way to bamboozled astonishment as he unveiled the hoard of loot. Even Natasha stared, her jaw dropped in bewildered surprise, her jaw practically on the other floor. To the denizens of this orphanage, this was nothing short of a miracle. Could it even be a dream? But when little Ga Bu stepped forward and took hold of a little doll, fashioned after a stocky stone titan, there could be no doubt. This incredible, unexpected windfall was one hundred percent real.

The kids all descended on the pile, shouting and laughing and cheering. Some took everything they could get their hands on, while others seized a favorite and held it tight. There were more than enough to go around–more than anyone could ever want or need. Action figures and sports equipment, toy weapons, board games, blocks and other buildables. It was like every Christmas they’d missed had all come at once. With her head Natasha beckoned Bowser and Kamek to share in the joy, and even she joined the romp. It wasn’t just the Koopas paying the children of the orphanage a visit; it was happiness and plenty themselves.

Some time later, Bowser and Kamek reconvened in Natasha’s office. When the woman turned back, her eyes were red, and her cheeks were wet with tears not of sadness, but of joy. “What…what could I possibly say? There’s nothing I could say that would even begin to express my gratitude,” she said, her brows curved upward. “A-and even less I can do to repay you.” One at a time she went to each Koopa and delivered a heartfelt hug. “But thank you. From the bottom of my heart. Seeing such joy on their face…” Sniffing, she composed herself, and put on a smile. “Well. It’s not much longer until bedtime. I’m sure everyone wants to play with their new toys until they topple over, but they’ll be there in the morning. We need to get everyone ready for bed. The kittens will probably zonk out and need to be carried. We’ll have to brush Small’s teeth, I guarantee it. He’ll have hidden the toothpaste…again…” Stifling a yawn, Natasha steadied herself against her desk. “I…whoooo...oh, forgive me. I’m so very tired.” She reached up to put her headset back on, only to place it back on the desk. “Please go ahead. I’ll be right behind you…just a second to put myself together…”

The two looked a little embarrassed by this heartfelt praise, with Bowser trying to brush it off like it was not such a big deal seeing as to him ”It just felt like the right thing to do, I guess?”

Then they stepped out to give the good doctor a moment or five to recover and saw about either hedging or transporting the children to bed, with Bowser doing much of the latter, the king making for an adorable sight with armfuls of kittens at one point in the process. A few of the others did need to be encouraged to leave the toys be and to head to bed, which was eventually achieved via suggesting they pick out a stuffed animal (or monster) to take with them, which saw Finley carrying a stuffed shark as large as they were with her to bed, among other cute displays of plushy selection and affection.

As that occurred, Kamek had some wisps sniff out the toothpaste for him, the motes, glowing softly with orange hues of sunset, eventually tracking it down to under Small’s own very own pillow.

When finally confronted, Small stared bug-eyed at the pink tube in the Koopa’s hand. “Uh oh, you found the toothpaste!?” He held up his hands placatingly, backing up against the bathroom wall as he jabbed one shaky finger into the air. “L-let’s get one thing clear! I can brush my teeth all by myself, okay?”

”Then I’m sure you can be a big boy and prove that to me then, yes? After all, a mouth of pearly white pointy teeth can look ever so fierce” the old koopa replied, trying the tactic that had gotten both Bowser and his son to take their dental hygiene properly.

In the end though, Small would not be talked into it. Moreover, this whole tooth-brushing ritual seemed to be a sort of game to him. He hopped around the bathroom like a march hare, avoiding the toothbrush like Kamek was ‘it’ in a game of tag. Ultimately, the Magikoopa had to get a little more hands-on. Once finally caught and brushed, Small struggled and spat, frothing at the mouth from the pink toothpaste foam, but before long his pearl whites were sparkling and he slunk off to bed with the last of his energy spent. Bowser and Kamek got the chance to tuck everyone in and say goodnight. It was all very cute, but they couldn’t help but notice two things: that Natasha wasn’t here helping, and that Ga Bu was missing.

When they went back downstairs, the two Koopas quickly found out why. The door to the doctor’s office was ajar, and inside they discovered a remarkable scene. After sitting down in her chair, Natasha had passed right out from exhaustion, and was now snoring softly. In her lap lay the missing Kobold with his toy, his little head laid on the woman’s chest as her arms wrapped instinctively around him. Both were sleeping peacefully.

After resisting the temptation to “awww” at the sight, the two stepped away, only for Kamek to return a few moments later, quietly drifting through the air and then laying a blanket over the pair so they would stay warm through the night time period. Then the two quietly saw themselves out of the orphanage, not at all concerned that they would not be able to receive the ‘repayment’ mentioned in the commissions board notice by doing this.

Bowser stretched and yawned wide once they were clear, it having been a tiring ending to an already tiring day ”I am beat. And still kinda hungry”

”Mmm, I agree, that was quite the task. Hopefully we’ve brightened up their world a little bit however” Kamek replied to his king, before noting that ”That said, our work is not quite done, as we have two final children that need to be put to bed”

”They’re good, right?” the king asked, having not had the mental energy while handling all the other kids to think about how the two of them were off on their own. He was sure that together, they’d be fine, but he worried a little still.

”They’ve been on their own little adventure, but I’m directing them back to us now” the mage informed his king, relieving him of his stress.

”Good, then let’s link up, grab some midnight snacks, and then hit the hay” the king commanded, to which Kamek agreed with a ”As you will it, sire” before the two headed back off into the rainy city’s streets once again.

wordcount: 1,088 (+2)
Midna: level 9 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (102/100)
Location: Sector 06 Hublink
Warp Charges: 3

While there were a couple of introductions and talk, ultimately the first offered plan, Blazermate’s was the one they went with. Not that that got the princess out of having to use up some of her limited portal energy, as her own suggestion of getting a change of clothes prompted a suggestion that they should get them from the main base. Still, one charge used was better than two, that was for sure, so she’d come out ahead in a way

”Just give me a second and I’ll find somewhere to put it” the princess said, before slipping into the shadows and then scaling down the side of the trench separating the plate they wanted into from the one next door till she found a maintenance tunnel of some kind.

In there, nicely out of sight if rather inconvenient if they ever tried to use this for something other than a clothing run, she popped down a portal, and then used it to go to and from the SOU headquarters.

She then scooted up top side again, and presented the team with a pile of button-ups of various sizes, having taken most of the stock to supply the others with disguises. She herself was not, however, wearing one, as her already inhuman proportions combined with various fusions meant that none of them really fit, and she’d apparently already burned through the supply of squid-kid sized outfits that had done so (both of which where not only dirty, but ruined as far as blending in went by various bits of battle damage).

It was a good thing she’d be spending most of her time hiding in the shadows then, as she’d returned to the classic nothing but a helmet look, augmented only by the cut in half psycho mask (currently sitting around her neck instead of deployed over her face), single shoulder guard, rosary, mimic tooth necklace, and overpriced watch. She’d simply decided that being entirely combat ready was worth giving up on being able to come on out in polite society without drawing attention, as she did not think the ancient stone helmet of unimaginable dark power would really fit in. Nor would the oversized lance she wanted to test out.

”Good luck to you all with getting in. If you need me to store anything in the twilight realm as part of blending in, just let me know” she told them, before slipping into Goldlewis’s shadow. From there she watched the entire proceeding ‘infiltration’ with interest.

Oh and also occasionally provided uncontrolled comments that came from nowhere such as telling the robot ”Looks like you're hearing things. Might want to get that checked out” or complaining that the city was ”Much to bright” and ”Like a rotten apple polished to a mirror sheen”

The dimmer hues of purples and blues of the bay they arrived at were much more her speed. They certainly weren't threatening to blind her the way light glancing off the glass buildings would have had she stepped out of the shadows.

The people’s style however, she did not respect very much, and it seemed the feeling was mutual, at least when it came to the garb of the people she was riding along with in the shadows of.

Speaking of them, that group soon got a fair bit bigger as they eventually found a spot for the teleporter in an out of the way public restroom, and used it to bring in everyone else. That was not the end of their travel woes however, as though they were now in the city, they still needed to get across it without getting all eyes on them.

Shame they couldn’t just drive again, as the city was a closed system, where only those who could afford a registered vehicle to use purely within its walls were able to make use of its roads. Which made the entirely unregistered bikes and warthog Midna had stashed away rather useless, nor could she simply bring Goldlewis’s car in as it did not have the right kind of license either.

”Goddesses, what a bureaucratic nightmare. They really want to keep the peasants out I guess” she said, which given she was royalty did not contain quite as much disdain as it might have coming from one of said peasants.

So they had to be smart about this.

”I could shadow hop all the way around to the other side and bring a teleporter with me, but that’d take a while, especially as I can’t just claim a restroom like we just did all on my own, so finding a spot to put it down would be even harder” she commented from the shadows, offering that as an option of last resort.

The boat idea did seem like a good one, though finding someone willing to take on a band of strangers and give them a ride for free (or for cheap) seemed unlikely. At least not without being very curious as to why this interesting bunch wanted to get across the lake in a hurry.

”I could put on a disguise and “borrow” a sail to get across, then just escape via the shadows once I am on the other side and set up the teleporter. Would cause a lot of noise, but they wouldn't know it was related to us if I pull it off right” she suggested as an alternative to relying on the kindness of strangers ”or could you, Goldlewis, just ‘requisition’ one using the credentials of your, former, position of … secretary of defense was it?”

Those were also tools to keep lower on the priority list in her mind however. She did not particularly like the idea of theft from random blameless individuals, even if they would only be using the vehicle for a short while. There was a reason she did not, say, offer to shadow sneak into a clothing store and simply portal away outfits for the group when no one was looking, for example. Part of that was her medieval presumption that said stores would be owned and operated by individuals, and not massive corporations who could easily foot the bill of their city/world/multiverse saving operations, however, so she could likely be convinced to do so in the name of the greater good.

Ultimately, she was along for the ride for much of this one unless things got spicy, and most certainly would not be the one going face to face with boat owners to try and talk them into things.

wordcount: 1,041 (+2)
Midna: level 9 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (100/100)
Location: Seiran Underground
Warp Charges: 3

Midna managed to steal a touch of downtime before they headed out. First thing’s first, she crushed a bunch of the Other spirits they had acquired from the tunnels (but not the exploding ones as Raz requested them as she was piling them all out). The thought that these might once have been people offering only a moment's pause and whispered memorial before their spirits were put to use in fueling her new quest for justice in their name.

This gave some interesting results, some of which she offered up (spit, the active camo module and smoke grenades) incase others found more use for them, while she kept the oversized spear for herself, Urbosa’s proficiency make it work smoothly in her hands (although unbeknownst to her, it would prove to be rather harmless in said hands, as her concrete knowledge that the golden goddesses and the lesser gods and deities of her world where real resulted in her having very little in the way of what could be considered faith).

She had no idea what to do with the silly looking hat.

There was also enough to tend to her menagerie of minions. Or rather, for the most part, to have Blazermate do that for her, as most simply required the bots healing, but there were two slightly more involved operations with decidedly opposite outcomes.

The first was she brought out her mechabear, and after a bit of observation of its state in a non-urgent environment, determined that the metal bits were not working, lacking some kind of energy. A touch of talk with Blazermate and a dig around her horde of collected items found a solution to that, an “energy spike” which had some convenient instructions on it explaining its operation written on it in very small text.

One connection of cybernetic armor with the repowering source, and her semi-mechanical steed was back in operation, though the spike was spent in the process.

The other side of the coin, however, was an offer by Blazermate to enhance her undead Darknut using her mawed shield. Apparently it had been very effective on the monsters it had reanimated, but when she took the bot up on the offer, they learned that applying a random mutation to a carefully constructed creation did not have the best result, as the bones of the dead creature grew twisting branches that clogged up the armor and made it more resilient, yes, but rendered near incapable of movement.

”Well, that’s ironic I guess” she noted, having traded one crippled minion for another. At least she knew how to fix this one, though it would involve a bunch of time with a bonesaw that she did not have at the moment, as they had an appointment to catch.

They could not dally two long before heading out after all, as there was a not insignificant car ride between where they were in Seiran and over to the Hublink, despite them only being a plate away from each other. That left the princess with plenty of time to think. Think, and be annoyed about how it seemed like every one of the organizations that were on the surface meant to stop their crisis was instead perpetuating it.

”Or I guess we only know that someone in Seiran is making Others, and also that they did something else with the psyfish. Making more of those, only to kill them as well. Then releasing them into the under-city … I wonder if that was used as another purge of dissidents like the one we just witnessed” she pondered, but, unaware of the existence of life light clocks, all she could think was they wanted strong spirits for something.

Then there were the other two groups. Neuron blatantly wielded their foes as weapons, which honestly led Midna to give them the biggest benefit of the doubt, while DespoRHado somehow resisted the virus that seemed to be driving their own enemies. Given what Riden had said before he went off on his own, there was 100% something suspicious about that.

”Maybe they made the virus? To build their own power and influence, especially of this Armstrong person? If they can control their enemy somewhat, while anyone else who fights them has to face the full force, that would be a way to make themselves a linchpin of the city’s survival” she suggested, but that was just a guess.

She was certainly a lot more interested in this debate all of a sudden, given that both of the people talking seemed to be at the head of conspiracies perpetuating the ever crisis. That and disgusted by the state of the city’s politics for the exact same reasons.

Either way, a little while later, they were rolling up to the gates of sector six’s upper plate, and meeting back up with the others. She wasn’t exactly really familiar with most of them, it had to be said, which made Poppie’s absence stab her heart even harder, a pain that found her giving Torra a sympathy hug and assurance that they’d get her back, whatever it took.

Step 1 for that, getting into the city housing the corporation that was apparently suspect of holding the key to doing so. There were, naturally, obstacles preventing them from just getting in, as they only had legal access for 6 people.

Or rather ”Seven” she corrected, because ”I can shadow you when you get in”
That still left a whole lot of them on the outside, but Midna did have some suggestions for that.

”I could also set up portals to get the others in once the first six get past the barrier, but that won’t help us if they stop us again inside” she offered in tandem with Blazermate's suggestion, before having a little bit more of a think, and adding ”Best way to not be stopped, I think, would be to make sure we look like we belong there. Confidence is important for that, but so would looking the part and, well, we don’t exactly give off a high society look. Especially after fighting through ruins and over stagnant reservoirs”

She knew she could really do with another change of clothes, as cleaning herself up in the clinic’s bathroom had only done so much.

wordcount: 1,508 (+3)
Midna: level 9 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (98/100)
Location: Seiran Underground
Warp Charges: 3 (-1)

(co-staring @TruthHurts22's Raz)

As the truck rumbled away the two stowaways strained to listen in to the conversation going on between the people who had stolen away the transformed Princess Peach, a task made slightly hard by the rumbling of the machine itself. Midna certainly had a better time of it, able to stow away inside the truck in its occupant’s shadows (although she had to spend the entire journey biting her own hand to avoid offering comment on the things being said), while unbeknownst to her (and vice versa) Raz clung to the underside of the vehicle, concrete wheezing by mere inches below.

Still, be they in or under, both spies got some very, very juicy details from the free flowing talk between what turned out to be some kind of revolutionary group seeking to cut out the rot infesting Suoh, which Midna would have found heartening, had she not found out about them right when they had just felt the boot of the system crush down on them, hard.

Though Midna had an easy time eavesdropping, it was unsurprisingly much harder to pick up quiet conversation inside of an armored truck when you’re clinging to its underside. Luckily, Raz was able to reach out with his ~psychic senses~ to remotely pick up what was being said. ”Metamorphose? Extermination..?” A bad feeling crept into Raz’s stomach, not helped by the precarious spot he chose to hide. It was a testament of his will that he didn’t puke right over the road. This was definitely juicy intel, though what it exactly meant, and if he could entirely trust Crenshaw and the others, he wasn’t too confident.

Midna, too, wasn’t so sure if she could really trust these people. After the ‘resistance’ of al-mamon turned out to be a front for some nefarious mind control plot, she was not going to jump into this organization's arms without more info, even if she managed to remain hopeful that said info would turn out possitive. The flow of that came to an end, however, as they approached some kind of rally point for the group.

The vehicle finally stopped, and the passengers started to move out. Minda, naturally, went to follow via slipping into one of their shadows. When she did, however, her low to the ground position, or rather functionality in it, let her see what the people she was tailing could not. Namely that she was not the only one who had stowed away.

She immediately switched priorities, and shadows, to link up with Raz. She had names of people in the organization. She had the name of what was probably their base, and most likely where Peach had been sent. It was enough. Making sure the boy did not get caught was more important.

Raz didn’t share that priority, of course. He thought he was undertaking a solo stealth operation to suss out a possible coup or alternate sect of rebellion within the Psych-OSF. In other words, the exact thing he spent most of his life dreaming of. He was a little held up from continuing from not having thought ahead, though. ”Okaaaay, now how do I get out of here? Do I go invisible again and jump into some kind of storage crate? Do they have any around here? It’s hard to see…”

”I wouldn’t recommend it, who knows where you’d end up delivered too” a voice coming from the ground interjected into his mutterings to himself

”I guess so, but it’s better than staying- huh?!” Raz, in surprise, slipped off the various car bits he was clinging to, falling a good three inches onto the hard concrete. ”Who’s there?” he snapped, trying his best to whisper.

”A whoops. Sorry about that scare. Its Midna” the princess of twilight clarified from the dark, only to curse wordlessly at the sound of footsteps approaching. One of the psychics seemed to overhear the thump of him impacting the ground, though their pace seemed to indicate curiosity rather than urgent concern.

Flipping around onto his stomach, Raz peered out around them at the approaching footsteps. ”You came too? Whaddya think, should we take these guys on? Get them to hand Peach back over to us?”

”They might be able to help so let’s not-” Midna started, before pivoting the conversation to dealing with the current problem instead of arguing strategy ”-let’s not stick around here to get found out. Can you invisible yourself and get to that tunnel to the right? I’ll meet you there and we can plan”

”What? But we’re right here, we can’t just leave!” Raz tried to convince Midna, though really he was starting to get cold feet himself. Wouldn’t be a very good stealth operation if he got caught on step one, after all. ”Fine, yes, I’ll meet you there,” he muttered, a little peeved at his moment of coolness needing to cut short. A quick pop out of the visible spectrum later, Raz rolled out from under the truck, jumping back onto his feet to make a break for the tunnel. He had to be quick since his un-amplified Invisibility wouldn’t last long.

Midna, after taking a moment to be impressed by the invisibility trick, and make sure that the psychic coming to investigate did not think anything was suspicious (they did not) simply hopped through a few shadows, and into the tunnel. Her eyes, adapted to the dark, had spied a runed van up the tunnel and popped out behind it to wait for Raz to show.

Soon enough the goggle-headed kid came up around the van, nearly jumping out of his boots in surprise. ”Gyah! Jeez, you’re really good at sneaking up on people…”

Minda could not help but have a short impish giggle at his expense now that they were somewhat clear, before taking it as a compliment ”Why thank you. It’s not that impressive though, I hardly even have to try” and being smug about it for good measure.

”Now get behind here, before someone spots you” she told him after, patting a spot so he could sit next to her with their backs to the van (and the outpost) behind them.

”Shouldn’t we get back to the others? They might be wondering where we went. Plus, we gotta tell them what we know as soon as possible, in case something happens.”

”Sounds like a good plan to me” Midna agreed, glad that the mad dash had apparently put the other one, namely to fight all of the people in the base, into the grave where it belonged.

”I can make these gates, which we can use to travel right back to the hideout, so we won’t have to walk either” she added, before pointing a little ways up the tunnel to where a light was glowing, and a the wall seemed to curve in a bit, and suggested ”and I think there might be a side path up there? I would rather not put the gateway in sight of the base, so how about we check that out?”

Raz nodded, working his shoulders to ease the post-riding-under-a-car cramps. ”Hey, you’re the expert on interspatial transport portals. I never got to that course yet.”

Nodded in response, and then slipped into the shadows again, appearing over at the inlet. Within, like she had hopped, was a door, one that, with a bit of magical trickery and brute force, she got open, revealing a dusty unused maintenance room.

She declared it ”Perfect” and immediately set up the portal, a crack in space forming just below the ceiling, before it opened wide, perfectly black squares unfolding across surface of the stone, and then a lattice of teal lines of power forming on those, twisting in on themselves till they had formed a tunnel into the space between the light world, and the twilight realm. Far away in Seiran, the portal she had set up there opened in the same way, both heralding and awaiting their arrival.

”There we go, ready to go” she declared, before holding out a crooked arm and telling to ”Hold on to me while we go, unless you want to find out what kind of animal my home will turn you into I’m sure”

Raz looked into the portal, then up at Midna’s hand. For a brief moment, he just thought. ”...maybe another time,” Raz finally said in full seriousness, taking the imp’s hand, ready to traverse the twilight.

The princes quirked a smile, assuming it was still actually a joke, before, without ceremony, they both were sucked up into the portal. They skimmed through the dark, getting glimpses of an endless eternally sunset (or was it sunrise?) lit void filled with floating islands and cities of gray stone and glowing lines of magic, so close, yet so far away, and then they arrived at their destination.

Upon said arrival, the princess gave an uncharacteristically wistful sigh and a ”someday” before she released his hand and loudly informed him, and everyone in the building: ”and we’re back”

”Miss us?” Raz added, very quietly following it with, ”I always wanted to say that,” under his breath.

The Koopa Troop

wordcount: 2,964 (+4)
Bowser: Level 12 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (199/120)
Bowser Jr: Level 12 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (89/120) 59
Kamek: Level 12 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (72/120) 42
Rika: Level 7 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (85/70)

Level 10 Sectonia (holding 4 level up) - (61/100)
Location: The Under - Home of Tears

A severed limb splatted to the ground in front of the troop, causing all to start like a cat presented with a cucumber before they realized who it belonged to. Well. except Rika who crouched down, picked up and called out ”I think someone dropped this” with nary a thought of how weird this was behind her eyes.

The rest of them did actually get the message and once they had caught Rika up, they headed inside. They traded a brief hello with the pair, and then popped over to the counter to place some orders from the two baristas, Maddy and Clemence.

The menu consisted of fresh coffee, tinned coffee, milk, expresso, and so forth as expected, as well as cookies, muffins, scones, and, for some reason, Pear Fusilli. Even more out of place than the pasta however, was Clemence’s side hustle of selling blank tapes and rewinds for said tapes.

Upon seeing those Jr inevitably asked ”Hey, so, what’s the deal with the ‘tape’ things?”, the young prince was not even familiar with the antiquated audio storage format.

"Oh, zese?" Clémence seemed to perk up when the young prince voiced an interest in a very particular subset of her inventory. Though she spoke with a notable French accent, Junior could parse her speech pretty well thanks the time he'd spent around the Seaplane Tender, Bella, back in the Deep Blue Seaside. "Zey are cassette tapes. Nothing strange about zem, how zey work or what zey're made of, but with a cassette player and microphone you can use zem to record any monsters you meet out in ze field, and make zeir power your own." She held up two different tapes, one an ordinary dull black, the other metallic and shiny. "Two hundred for ze normal ones, seven hundred fifty for ze chrome, which are much better at recording. If you're new and you wish to know more about cassette beasts..." After looking around, Clémence zeroed in on one customer in particular. "You should ask him," she said, nodding at the Skelevangelist.

Sectonia wasn’t interested in the tapes as she figured there was a catch with them. Instead only grabbing another coffee to stay awake. Something more flavorful than what she had at the hotel, which was very, very basic and bland.

Jr, never one to turn down the possibility of acquiring new toys, was very much the opposite, and eagerly followed up on that suggestion, proceeding to go bother the indicated gentleman with little regard as to if that might be rude or not.

”Hey you, the lady at the counter said you knew stuff about these tape things. Lay it on me. I wanna know all the details. Like, can it be any monster? Or only specific ones? And are they any good if so? Or would this just let me turn into stuff less awesome than I already am” the little monster climbed up onto a chair opposite the man to ask.

At the mention of tapes, the other undead at the table Junior joined raised a collective eyebrow, and the Skelevangelist near-instantly went into panic mode. "Wuh...he-hey, hold your horses just a, just a hot second there, little guy." Leaning on the table in an exaggerated casual manner, he turned toward Skelly and the others. "He's, uh, heheh, obviously just a little confused. Mistaking me for someone else, I bet!" He floated up from his chair and patted Junior on the head, subtly tugging on his arm with the other hand. "Give me a second, will you, fellas? I'll get him sorted out, be back in a minute!" Then, in a barely-audible whisper, he hissed in Junior's ear. "Can't tell you here. Follow me?"

He led the way to a more secluded nook of the Terminal, then wiped the back of a bony hand across his skull. "Uh, sorry about that, kid. Look, I'll tell you whatever you want to know, as long as you don't go blabbing to anyone I know about cassette tapes or turning into monsters, okay? Deal?

”Uhhh, deal? But you might wanna tell the lady selling them that as well then?” Jr replied, very confused, but happy enough to roll with it. If it was meant to be a secret, then he assumed it had to be good. As was Kamek, who was observing this whole thing via a wisps he had sent to keep an eye on the boy when he started to wander off.

The Skelevangelist shifted uncomfortably. "Well, the tapes aren't very popular, so most people don't ask, and she doesn't tell. In a city that's ninety-nine percent monster, tapes that let you turn into one don't have much use. Except...well." Suddenly the Skelevangelist's body dissolved into what looked like TV static, fluctuating and reforming into the shape of a man. He looked to be in his early twenties, unkept and unshaven, rail-thin and gaunt. He held a cassette player, and as Junior watched he lowered his headphones down to hang around his neck. "I'm not really a Skelevangelist," he admitted, his eyes melancholic. "I just wanted to fit in, you know? I'm not the only person 'blending in', either. Humans d-don't...have a great reputation around here. Monsters don't tr-trust us. If my monster friends found out I was some loser human and not a cool skeleton, they wouldn't want anything to do with me! So please, k-k-keep it to yourself! It's my social life on the line!"

He tugged at his beard uncomfortably. "A-anyway, you wanted to know about the tapes? Well, they can record lots of different m-monsters. If you've got a player, put the tape in, point the microphone at 'em, a-and press this." He indicated a button on his player with a circle. "It's up to chance, but if a friend of yours beats on 'em it'll go up, and if you get hit it'll go down. When transformed, you can't do anything you did before, but you can use everything the monster c-can, and it's HP gets stacked on top of yours. The tape'll...uh, well, break if it takes too much damage, and you'll turn back, but you can re-re-re-wind the tapes to fix 'em up." He showed Junior the tape in his possession, emblazoned with a drawing of a skeleton's head. Then he slipped it back into the player and closed it, his finger hovering over the play button. "Uh...I guess it wouldn't hurt to mention, there' other thing the player can do, b-but most people can't use it. If two people have players and their hearts act as one, they might be able to fuse their monster forms together. A fusion's got the stats and p-p-powers of both combined, so they're crazy strong, but you gotta stock up power first." He carefully put his headphones back on. "Uh, b-but I don't know anyone who can, so don't get your hopes up. T-that's everything I know..." He pressed play on his device, and in a shimmer of static he turned back into a Skelevangelist. Instantly he seemed more confident, animated, and personable, with no trace of his stutter. "So keep it on the down low, will ya kid?"

”Yeah, yeah, sure, don’t worry about it” Jr replied, still not really getting the whole not wanting to be seen as human thing. Kamek meanwhile wondered if those who slither in the dark’s double lives had had any influence on the ‘humans being seen as mistrustful’ thing the man had talked about.

The boy left him after that, (or rather he left, then went back and said ”and, uh, thanks” after some rather blatant prompting from Kamek) giving the tapes thing a mull over as he and headed back to rejoin the others.

After the rest of the party had placed their orders, they had returned and took a seat with the two ladies, the king shrinking himself down to fit properly, while Rika had been busy drinking in all the neat sights to cause much of a ruckus.

Then getting to talk about her and Jr’s little adventure distracted her more than enough to prevent any shenanigans.

”Mmm, hmm. There’s this place called the crumbling caverns that’s made entirely of cheese!” Rika replied to the question, before going on an extended ramble about their experiences ”and there were these rat and mouse people who mined it, and we got a job to run some of it back, and got attacked by more rat people and some like, living cheese or something while doing that. They had jetpack knights armed with forks, it was silly. Anyway we killed some of them and they killed some guy who was with us. Then they ran off and we delivered the cheese but got paid basically nothing and learned that jobs are bad and you should just kill tings and crush spirits or steal to get money”

”Ah, no, maybe you should not have learned that specific lesson from that Rika … or rather young mistress” Kamek replied, realizing that he now functionally had two royal scoins he needed to help raise right.

”Young mistress? Oh, like how you call jr young master... Why do you do that anyway?” Riak asked, entirely skipping over the advisor’s attempt to adjust her learning, to which Kamek explained that, as daughter of a king, she was now royalty

”Soooo, does that make me a princess?” Rika asked, and then replying ”neat” once she got confirmation of that being the case. After all ”I mean I already have one in me anyway, but I didn’t know if that counted or not? Guess it doesn’t matter either way now”

While the matter of his lineage was clarified Bowser was pouring over the map and had gotten himself confused, pointing at the tall blurred out right section and saying ”Hey, shouldn't that bit to the side be filled in? We went down it right? Kamek check our map”

”Sire I … yes here” the mage unfurled his own (miniaturized) map, which matched Nadia’s entirely, as instructed, before correcting his king’s confusion

”I believe this up here” he tapped the ash lake ”Was where we came down. Most of our journey seems to have been pipe, at least compared to those who went through the ah, ‘womb’ structure”

”Oh. Right. I was just checking you know that” he insisted.

”Hm… Which area had that ‘clock’ you were talking about? Perhaps if its easy to get to, I could inspect that first. That pig boy did mention something about stealing lifelight, perhaps that clock is related?” Sectonia mused as she looked over the map. Really this was a guise to her agenda to see if she could make a regent out of the previous king here, but learning about the consul’s powers or potential about them could be useful.

”Oh? Ah yes, the clock. That would be here” Kamek pointed at the ash lake ”and can be accessed via a warp pipe found in the water under Gallo tower’s bridge. Should take you all the way back up”

”As for what the clock is, and what life light is, well, it appears that the red glow in the galeeming’s eyes suffuses their body, and keeps them alive somehow. Or maybe more accurately a lack of it kills them” Kamek explained what he remembered ”either way, the clock fills with lifelight whether when things die nearby, or when lifelight is put into it willingly, which is what Asgore does. Then people like those in the city take lifelight out to live.”

”Which I guess makes them sound like a good thing, but didn’t Asgore also think it would be good if they were destroyed?” Rika asked, having not quite gotten that part

”I. Yes. I suppose”

”I got real big and punched it and it still didn’t break, so they are straight up indestructible” Bowser added with a matter of fact rather than egotistical tone, despite egotistical being exactly what the statement was.

”Magic must often defeat magic. Nothing is indestructible.” Sectonia said flatly.

”Right. Well. One flaw I do know about the clocks is that the Conuls can take flame out of them, to either heal or … hmmm. You know, I do not recall, are they Galeeming or not?” he asked, which got some shrugs from the others in the troop.

”Considering upon his death he leaked red motes of energy instead of a spirit, perhaps this clock is meant to keep the consuls alive and all powerful, instead of what this ‘Asgore’ thinks it does? I wouldn’t know without seeing it though.” Sectonia said.

”Well, whatever the case, the clocks require conflict to keep the people alive, but breaking them would free people from that need. Perhaps from galeem’s influence?” he theorized, but he really did not know for sure (it was a rather academic question anyway, as breaking the clocks was currently out of the question) so he simply shrugged and left it there.

As they were mulling over the implications of the map, and considering where to go, the orders they had made on their way in arrived.

Decaf coffees for the two older koopas, warm milk for the young ones (which professed to calcium enriched for extra healthy bones on the menu) along with a small pile of cookies and muffins which Kamek, who had worried it might spoil their appetite for dinner, had been outvoted 3 to one on getting. So he’d gotten himself some pasta. Sectonia had gotten a fancy late.

That paused any real potential for strategizing, leaving plenty of time for others to catch up.

Once they did, and got their own orders if they wanted them, and Jr got back to nab his drink before it got cold and talk a bit about how neat the whole monster transformation and fusion thing sounded, the strategizing could begin.

”So, as the young mistress, Rika, has mentioned, she and the young master have had little trip over here” Kamek indicated to a section of the map to the right ”and found it not particularly dangerous, comparably”

”Yup, we went pretty far and only got attacked one whole time!” Rika agreed , before outlining what kind of progress could be made ”There was some kind of factory further on I think, but we didn’t get much of a good look. Also this town fairly close to that which would make an ok staging or rallying point for before we go hit that place”

”Which leads into my suggestion that we head out tomorrow rather than try and squeeze an expedition into the unknown into the evening. A proper night’s rest will do us much better than the cat naps we’ve most likely had. Plus it lets us stock up on and offload equipment at a more leisurely pace” Kamek popped his still not quite empty cup down to suggest ”We hardly want to be hauling P’s treasures with us when we set out, I shouldn’t think”

”Indeed. Some beauty rest for everyone would be best. As for what areas to go to, it really doesn’t matter in the end. It seems we will need to go get more mask fragments from all over the Under. ” Sectonia said. ”Speaking of all that loot. How should we go about dealing with that… Hm… There is quite a lot of it to move.”

”Best we sell it off before we leave.The sooner the better, so we can put those funds to work. Perhaps after this little meeting is over, you would be able to give us a touch of your time to aid in that endeavor?” the royal advisor asked the queen.

”The faster it gets done, the faster we can all get some proper sleep.” Sectonia said. ”I still need to go see this ‘Asgore’ to see if he can take the reagent position here for me as well. The citizens here would love their former king to return if he was ousted by that… pig.” Sectonia then thought about how to go about that, and had the thought of one of the buildings she had passed prior. ”There is that pawn shop, and the auction house not that far away as well that could expedite this perhaps.” She also thought a bit before saying. ”And if this isn’t that valuable, as none of it seemed to be magical, just giving it back could pay dividends more than gold should we come back perhaps. hm…”

”I do not believe he will be interested. He has charged himself with refilling the clock all on his own, which is not something he can do at the same time as ruling a city,” Kamek explained, skipping over the self esteem issues the former king had, before pivoting back to the loot issue and pointing out that ”Well, a fair amount of it is art and such things, which I would think would sell quite well at an auction house, would it not?”

”Perhaps. Art is a weird one to sell. It could be valuable or not at all. I suppose we will have to see. The toys however I don’t think will sell well at all, best to return those.” Sectonia said, giving her opinion on that.

”Awww, but I just got to play with those game console things for the first time” Rika bemoaned, and Jr too was a little miffed, but both were easily placated by promises of going shopping for their own toys, and so there was no further dissent on the part of the troop when it came to giving the children back their things.

Having said their parts, the turtles, bee and ship leaned back in their chairs and opened the floor to the other’s points of view on what they should be doing.

The Koopa Troop

wordcount: 1425 (+3) (+16) (+13 for B&R, +7 for J&K)
Bowser: Level 12 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (195/120)
Bowser Jr: Level 12 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (85/120) 59
Kamek: Level 12 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (68/120) 42
Rika: Level 7 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (81/70)
Location: The Under - Home of Tears

The party of the depths slogged their way back out of them, a slow but ultimately event-less journey, the mass of flesh that had distracted them on the way down not making another appearance.

There was no light to emerge into, of course, only rain, but there was still warmth to be found in the form of friends and kin. Friends and kin who had not had Jr’s presence to cure them of their ills, and who had just finished rooting around in a dumpster.

Specifically, Jr and Kamek found Rika sitting on the ground next to a pile of ammo while Bowser tried his best to try and reconnect the cable from the gauntlet P had stolen into a port in her back.

Spark ”Ow!” ”sorry” Spark

His best wasn’t very good.

Thus the king was doubly relieved when his son and royal advisor hurried over to join them, both because, well, they were alive and well, but also because he could hand over the technical stuff over to Jr, feeling nothing but pride when the boy sorted out the issue in only a few seconds.

”aaaand up we go again” Rika declared as she got back on her own two feet ”phew. Feels good to be able to walk again.” before hunching over in a bit of pain and holding her stomach, the after effects of the poison still with her ”That kid was a real big jerk, i can still feel my skin itching yech”

As Jr set about fixing up the two of them with his white mage magics, Bowser asked ”Oh right, yeah, where is the kid anyway?” with blissfully ignorance of what had occurred down in the tower’s depths

”Ah, well, you see, things did not go … quite according to plan” Kamek told him, tapping his forefingers together tepidly as he tried to think about he could explain things

”Huh, what do you mean?”

”The spells wouldn’t make him stop, and we couldn't just grab the big energy monster thing he turned into so they … well .. they killed him” Jr explained with a mix of frustration and gloom in the mages place, to which Kamek swiftly added ”It was that or let him run off and drain the city’s clock dry, so they, and I, did what we had to do” in explanation of the action.

The king visibly slumped in response to the news, and neither of the other koopas really knew what to say, which left plenty of room for Rika to come in and comment with ”Well that’s a shame. I reeeeeeally wanted to punch him in the mouth over and over for everything he did, the frustrating little jerk” with all the care of a bull in a china shop, the ship girl coming at this from an entire different emotional wavelength than the rest of them.

”I … Rika … he was a kid” Bowser attempted to explain, but only got a blank look before she went on ”But he made food hurt! Who does that! And made me itchy, and stole my things, and he was just, you know, really annoying”

”He did also threaten to functionally kill everyone in the city, and apparently regularly went out and did the same kinds of awful things that he did to us to other people sire” Kamek pointed out the boy’s more serious crimes, namely violently tormenting, belittling and harassing the populace.

”Yeah, and that stuff’s probably bad too!” Rika agreed with a nod, before pivoting the entire conversation around to what she cared about which was ”But you know what’s good? I’m adopted!”

There was a moment of confused silence as the koopas suffered yet more emotional whiplash.

”I …” Jr started, very confused

”By Bowser! Right? Adoption is, like, becoming part of a family right? Which I am now? Right? Or always was? You didn’t really explain that bit” she tried to clarify, glancing repeatedly at Bowser as she did so.

”I … Yeah?” Bowser agreed, mind still trying to catch up, before adding a more enthusiastic ”Yeah!” once it caught up.

”Yeah!” Rika echoed, before turning to Jr and saying ”Which means that I’m your sister now. At least I think that is how that works?”

”Oh …” jr replied, not really knowing how to respond to that, but eventually settling on ”Neat”

”I know right” Rika agreed, having thought exactly the same when she found ot.

While he did this Bowser was giving Kamek a ‘have I messed up’ look that he hoped no one would see, while the mage in question was holding his melting heart in one hand, and then gave a thumbs up and an agreeing nod with the other, which left Bowser much more relieved than he would admit.

”Alright, tonight, or this morning, or whatever it is, has been way too long and hard. So…. Family hug time!” the king declared, scooping up both his kids in his arms, much to both of their delight (though Rika’s was much more audible than Jr’s), and then declared ”So let’s go get some shut eye” which jr at least was a little less delighted with.

”Aw, but I don’t wanna go to bed. I mean rest, sure, but it's only just the afternoon!” he complained, before spying something over his dad’s shoulder and asking ”Hey, where’d you get that papa?”

”Oh that? I might have grabbed some of the stuff a bunch of robots where using” Bowser replied, explaining the little pile of games and dvds and devices for playing them that P’s robots had no more use for (seeing as they had all exploded)

”Oh cool. We took some stuff too, but queeny bee’s holding all of it” jr explained, before glancing over and saying ”Hey uh Rika ... sis? ... wanna play some video games instead of sleeping?” only to gasp incredulously when she responded by asking ”What’s a videogame?” and then insisting she play them with him at once

”Alright, games, rest” Bower declared, before his stomach rumbled and demanded his notice, causing him to add ”and room service too for lunch. Sound good?”

”An excellent plan sire” Kamek agreed, as he waved some toadies forwards to pick up the loot Bowser had acquired for him, while the kids both gave ”mmmm”s of agreement.

Thus the time passed, with Bowser and Kamek actually getting some shut eye, while jr introduced his new sister to the wonderful world of videogames. It was, admittedly, a bit of a janky one. The prince had absolutely no idea what any of the stuff they had acquired was like, the mess of consoles and games from several worlds being both a combination of an archivist’s treasure trove and scrapheap with a few jewels in it for anyone actually looking for fun.

The pig and monster entertainment systems for example, looked almost identical, and contained a library of games which were all weird alternate spins on the other’s. There was also a weird disk that they had 0 luck in getting to work (probably for the best). The Funmachine had a game where you boxed with snakes, another one that tried to teach math via fighting ninjas ontop of a few others. Meanwhile the GamePig, entirely unrelated to the PEN, featured a bunch more pig themed games such as Corporate Swine, Golf, OverWorld Zero, Swine Hunter, Swinekeeper, Street Hog, and Tic-Tac-Triop.

A lot of them were pretty simplistic, basically just a minigame, and so they ended up rolling back around to the MES console, and playing a bunch of monster kart on it for a few hours (Rika with her 0 experience with games came last most of the time, baring one particularity contentious item driven win, but she still had a blast regardless), before taking power naps of their own.

They all woke up a bit later when Bowser got hungry again because they were approaching dinner time. At that point they packed up and trooped out, running into Sectonia on their way out, and inviting her (and anyone else who might be about) to come get dinner with them. That, and suggesting that they should take a look into somewhere they could sell the treasures they had acquired, Kamek pointing out that it would most likely be good to send the artwork, fancy furniture and other shiny objects to some kind of auction house or other high class goods selling establishment rather than trying to pawn if off at, well, a pawn shop.

Either way, that could wait till after food, and so the troop set out to find a restaurant, inevitably hitting the downtown and passing by Nadia’s lookout spot on their way there.

wordcount: 902 (+2)
Midna: level 9 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (95/100)
Location: Seiran Underground
Warp Charges: 4

Things didn't really go well for Midna, or her plans. First of all, before getting yelled at to shut up, she ended up arguing with Benedict about what they should do about Peach’s Otherfication.

”We are not abandoning our own, and we are not going to give up on her as long as there is hope we can save her” she retorted, angry both at him for suggesting it, and at a past version of herself who would have reacted just as callously to this situation.

”Besides, I can just gate-way us out if we get trapped in!” before having a thought and adding ”In fact that’s probably a better idea anyway, so thank you for that” as passive aggressively as she could manage. She was being honest however, despite the tone, as she had realized it would be a lot easier to seal the Peach-Other in with them (or just her) than it would be to retreat and trap it separately.

Not that she would have a chance to implement that plan mind, as things went from interpersonal relationships bad to just straight up bad right after that.

First her repetition of the darknut summoning was both predictable, and lacked the support it had the first time around, resulting in the Other pivoting from its spike attack to smash down onto the undead titan as it rose. The knight naturally raised its shield to guard itself, but the titanic blunt blow was more than enough to smash that down and into its own head. Metal buckled, bones cracked, and the only thing preventing the darknut from being turned to paste was the fact that the magic pulling it up was also overpowered, letting the Peach-Other whack-a-mole it right back to where it came from, but also causing said magic to act as suspension to soften the blow in the process.

Either way, the knight was sent packing, and was not coming back till anytime soon.

The only consolation was that to do that attack the Peach-Other had had to stop its spike attack, and that in focusing on her minion it left Midna with free rain to make her own strike, yelling ”I just made that you jerk!” as she drove the slap into its side.

That was the only hit she got before it pivoted to target her, and she might well have become paste had Luka not blinked in to deliver a hammer blow to a weirdly distorting limb. He attempted to insist he be allowed to handle things on his own, only to be struck before he could even make that heroic demand.

”For all of two seconds, so no” found herself retorting very unfairly given that he may have just saved her life.

Then her demand that they try and solve this with cleverness instead of killing truly fell apart when Geralt charged in in a mindless rage.

”Goddesses preserve us, what is wrong with you!? You're going to get both of you killed!” she cried out in alarm from her position hovering above as the witcher demonstrated the downside of strikers in full, because with only the fish looking one really being agile enough to avoid becoming collateral damage to the hulking Peach-Other, the rest would inevitably be hit and harm their summoner in the process.

She seethed for a moment, and then dove in, buzzing around the thing the other princess had been turned into like a gnat. ”I’m telling you, you maniac, back off!” she demanded of the Witcher, even as she took a leg out of Luka’s book, and aimed for the legs and arms, delivering jabs with her shadowhand to try and throw off its attacks, while her better reach and two sets of senses kept her clear of suffering his same fate.

Time passed in a hyper focused haze of disrupt, evade, disrupt until an age and a moment went by, and the icy hammer struck down the Other-Peach, sending it crashing to the floor.

It was only then that she could focus again on something other than keeping the other’s alive, and her mind flashed back to keeping Peach the same. But before she could move to try and put herself at Sina’s side in a show of support, the Peach’s transformed form was trapped and stolen away to a vehicle that had seemingly slipped in while they were blinded and/or distracted.

”Oh no you don’t” she practically growled, and then, before explanation could arrive in a green flash, she was gone. The princess’s vibrava dived down into a portal, while the princess herself shadow hopped after the kidnapper’s truck.

It was not, like Gralt, in a blind rage that she raced after them however, or at least not by the time she slunk around to find an ambush spot. She was outnumbered, out gunned (literally) and even if she could reliably take down all the soldiers and whoever the powerful psychic was, all that would do was unleash the Peach-Other once again, if they did not try and put her down while fighting.

Then there were the questions of who were these people? How had they known this would happen, as they must have to have had this truck and teleporter psychic prepared? Had they done this? If they had, did they know how to undo it?

That last question was what really stayed her hand, and so instead of lashing out, the princess of twilight lurked in the shadows, waiting to be delivered to the secrets that lurked in ones far far deeper, in the dark heart of this shining city.

wordcount: 686 (+1)
Midna: level 9 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (93/100)
Location: Seiran Underground
Warp Charges: 4

”that’s it, roll over doggy” the princess barked at the Other as her and Raz’s concussive blows knocked it off its feet and onto its back, only to swiftly add ”wait no, I mean, sorry Peach” when she realized just how insensitive what her mouth had said was.

In what felt like karma to Midna, the flipping over the thing that had been (or still was? She was having difficulty processing that) somehow made the situation worse, as it picked itself and started operating upside down, with heads hanging under it, and proved to somehow be even more dangerous in this form.

”I said I’m sorry!” Minda yelled as she fled from the spikes striking up from the ground, the first of them having clipped her wolf’s back leg while she was storing her clubba club, resulting in that being a very narrow chase.

”Red shift was the chimeras! I didn’t know Otherfication was a thing!” Midna called over to Blazermate’s question about what was the cause of this, before demanding to know from the PSYCH-OFF personnel ”Is this a thing? How did it happen? Can it be undone?” in a fruitless hope that they knew more about what had happened than she did.

As for what they should do, well, Goldlewis seemed to think that keeping up the attack was the right thing to do, the giant of a man hammering into the Other, knocking it back and ending its borrowing spike attack. For a moment. Then it screamed and filled the air with dust and debris, obscuring itself from view much the same way the smoke clouds had done for some of the other Other earlier.

Then the spikes began again.

”Oh for the goddess’s love, again with the smokescreen!?” the princess complained, while also once more being thankful for her mask as it prevented her from choking on the dust. Rather than go on the run from the spikes again however, she instead leapt off of her wolfos, sending it home to lick its wound, and summoned her vibrava in its place. The dragonfly looking pokemon grabbed her back with now well practiced ease, and combining both its flight and her levitation, the pair took to the air to be well out of range of the ground based spike attacks.

That gave her time to think and speak while she swooped across the battlefield seeking out the towering form of the transformed Peach.

”Maybe we should fall back? It’s,- Peach is- whatever it is is huge, we could easily trap it in these tunnels. Collapse a ceiling, seal it somewhere. Then we’d have the time to work out how we can- if we can save her, without worrying about anyone getting hurt while we do” she called out a suggestion as she flew.

Despite her suggestion of a non-violent solution, if/when she found the Peach-Other, she would still attack. Luka had a point after all, she knew: every moment the other was allowed to keep spear striking was one where someone might stumble in the dust cloud, and get impaled. Having learned from Goldlewis she knew enough blunt force could end the impalement attack, and she had plenty of that. So that was her plan.

She would swoop down, and land on the shoulder of a summoned darknut, the towering undead rising out of a portal right next to the Peach-Other once again, and once again after it had fully arisen it delivered a shield bash to its side. At the same time Midna drove a mighty palm strike with her shadow hand from her shoulder perch, hoping the combined blunt force strikes would knock the Peach-Other off balance again and disrupt its attack.

While it felt a little cliche to rely on the same spell twice, if it worked it worked. Though she really would prefer if the Peach-Other would ”Stay down this time!”

Then she’d take off once more while her shadow darknut sank back into the twilight realm, and then calling out ”It’s over here!” to try and inform anyone who wasn’t yet in the know of the Other-Peach’s location.

wordcount: 665 (+1) (+15)
Midna: level 9 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (92/100)
Location: Seiran Underground
Warp Charges: 4 (+1 for combat reward)

Midna’s grand slam worked like a charm, the massive explosive knocking the incoming Cleanser back a country mile, though not quite enough to send it back into the abyss from which it came

”You not like that huh? Well too bad, there’s more where it came from, and it’s all me!” Midna taunted the monstrosity, already preparing to charge up another titanic explosive to finish the job. That proved unnecessary however, as the lack of immediate threats from the front had freed Blazermate up to take down the camera with a massive laserbeam.

Reality warped again, and then returned back to normal, leaving them facing down a now inert camera, one with a strange black box now at its feet

”We, glad that’s over. Nice shot at the end there Blazermate” the princess praised the bot girl, before floating forwards to look at, but not touch, the source of the entire situation.

”So … does anyone know what these are? I guess it kind of looks like those weird machines they had all over the top side city now that I look at it more” she said, referencing the multitude of security cameras that infested Suoh, which she didn’t know what they where either.

She’d leave it to the others if they wanted to try and use the two devices, but if no one else did, she’d shove both into a sealed off spot in the twilight realm (a process that did not involve touching them), unintentionally emulating the OoP’s former jailers with her improvised containment unit.

After that they caught up with Karin again, who Midna was more than happy to fill in on what she had missed ”You would not believe the nonsense that we just went through-” as they rode through a few more tunnels.

After hanging back and keeping her mouth shut though their brief run in with the Seto’s Psych-OSF squad (and dithering upon and then deciding against informing them of the fallen squad they’d run across the remains of for the sake of moral) they rushed off to catch up with Peach, Sakura and Raz’s squad.

It was a good thing they did, as in the time between Seto having last seen them and their arrival, Raz and co had managed to run into some hulking titan of an Other that somehow managed to be even freakier than all the ones they had seen before.

Also, worse, Midna could not find, at a glance, any hint of the presence of her fellow princess among the squad. She would have asked about that, but Benedict’s first move was to launch right into commander mode and start ordering them about. The princess did not exactly appreciate that, but given that the beast was bearing down on Raz, and his idea seemed sound, she did not waste time complaining.

”Good plan, on it!” she called in agreement, before pointing a finger at the monster and commanding ”Initiates, root that thing!”

The three strikers stepped out of the aether around her and then bent down to press hands to the earth, summoning up a swarm of psychic roots that lashed out to try and grapple one of the hulking Other’s legs.

As they did that, the princess flicked a hand and summoned her clubba-club from the twilight realm. She gripped the massively oversized mace with her shadow hand and then, empowered by Benedict’s magic, rode into the fray atop her trusty wolfos steed, dragging the weapon behind her. Once close, she would swing the wrecking ball of a blunt instrument at the limb their tactician had ordered frozen in an attempt to shatter it.

At the same moment she swung, she summoned her undead Darknut, the super sized knight (who gave the Other a run for its money in the hight department) stepping out of the twilight realm and delivering a shield bash to its side to try and knock it off balance at the same time as its legs were under attack.

The Koopa Troop

wordcount: 1473 (+3) (+11 for B&R, +5 for J&K)
Bowser: Level 12 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (163/120)
Bowser Jr: Level 12 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (59/120)
Kamek: Level 12 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (42/120)
Rika: Level 7 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (49/70)
Location: The Under - Home of Tears

Worries about their assassinations (and one kidnapping) attracting the attention of the city’s fishy guards proved entirely unfounded as each and every team successfully regrouped just outside of the clocktower without a hint of what they had just done getting out.

The troop’s first business was regrouping within the growing assembly of heroes, and once they were sure everyone was ok, started trading tales of their exploits. Bowser was just in the middle of telling the others about how he punched a giant golem in the face when Nadia poked her nose in and requested the use of the Snaktivator.

Kamek, naturally, obliged her request, and they all took a moment to admire her ”Cool triple tail” as Jr put it.

That promptly reminded Rika that she had gotten quite the plethora of spirits from her and Bowser’s adventure, the fetching of which from her pockets attracted the attention of Queen Sectonia, who conveniently preempted her request to borrow her item enhancing hat.

Not all the spirits were crushed however, as Rika instead requested to be able to use a few of them for herself

The result was first of all, the ship girl having to kick off her heeled shoes due to them becoming rather uncomfortable all of a sudden, and then being quite confused for a moment by her new lizard shaped feet. Then even more confused when she rolled down and removed a stocking and found she had scale patched legs and entirely scaly and spread toed feet, ones like those of a dragon or dinosaur.

”huh. Weird. I didn’t realize they were lizard people under all that armor” she said, mostly to herself, before raising a foot up and presenting it to the royal koopas and noting cheerfully that ”Hey look, now we match. Kind of” which they found rather neat.

The actual benefit the spirit had brought failed to be immediately obvious to her, and it was only clarified later when she mounted up and felt the distinct urge to have a lance in hand. The downside however immediately presented itself when she accidentally cut herself while handling the ax they had received, which resulted in quite the unexpectedly nasty gash that had to be healed by Jr.

Fiddling around with the other items they had gotten let them discover a few things:

That the ax seemed to be intentionally making itself unwieldy to, well, wield,, as if Bowser, who tried to test swing it, was entirely unworthy of its use.

That though the stone glove proved to have quite the handy set of spells, it was rather useless for their flying mage, which resulted in Kamek asking ”Gandorf, Rubick,
Primrose, would any of you be interested in this tremor causing magic gauntlet?”
, which would result in a small fee for the other king, and none at all for their spider battling and tree climbing comrades.

That, though the scope would attach to Rika’s rifle it was more or less impossible for her to line her eye up with it to use it properly.

That the rune’s ability to launch someone airborn was both incredibly funny when done unexpectedly, and that it synergised rather well with Rika’s existing antigravity, as well as her grappling hook and maneuvering thrusters, and finally with the fact that her hands could actually hold the run while still using her forearm affixed gauntlets.

That they had no idea what ‘uses/charges/stocks’ meant on the label of the potions and that they had to ask about that (and would hand them off to whoever might find them useful).

And, finally, that if Rika took off her helmet before donning the Agastya Alternate Costume, and then re-applied it afterwards, she could give a half decent impersonation of one who slithered in the dark, even if between the cat ears, wyvern wing ears and two mismatching horns sticking out of it said helmet was getting rather busy details wise.

That led to a little plan of her leading the way and trying to bluff them any extra time she could via impersonating one of the slitherer’s members here to deliver a message, or something along those lines. A bit more talk also got them an idea of how they were going to handle P, and so after that, the team split back up into the same duos they had just been in.

With the plan settled, the shorter duo of the troop approached Iguana Gallo Valetto to set about seeing it through. And filling him in on it.

”Hi. We’re going with you to do the sneaky ambush thing. This P kid won’t know what’s hit him” Jr declared as he rolled on up with Kamek in tow

”Indeed,” the mage agreed, before cutting to the chase and informing P’s traitorous minion that ”Though I should note that we very much intend to take the boy alive. I hope that won’t be a problem?”

Gallo sniffed, displeased by the idea. "If you think him a mere misguided youth, you are woefully naïve. That brat deserves to suffer, and not just for what he's done to me, as your allies will see once they reach his lair. If he's allowed any leeway, he will reach the Absolutely Safe Capsule in his hideout, and that's that. Mission failed. Our only chance is my Clock Lancet, and to finish him off whilst he remains under his spell." He waved his hand dismissively. "But what do I know, P's destruction being a mere lifelong obsession of mine."

”Eh, we caught one jerk already today, no sweatm so another should be a piece of cake” Jr insisted, while Kamek inquired ”And what, may I ask, is this Absolutely Safe Capsule? Could we not simply disable it and then have more leeway to handle the situation?”

Crossing his arms, Gallo replied, "I've tried, believe me, but its construction predates me. Despite its mind-boggling simplicity it is completely immune to all forms of attack, technology, and magic that I've seen, and therefore, utterly foolproof. That's why we must be there to stop him before he can get inside."

”Second time we’ve encountered something like that down here. How annoying” Kamek noted. Or rather third, though they had not even bothered trying to physically break into the black egg.

”Couldn't we just, I dunno, barricade it shut or something then? He just has to be slowed down enough that I can put him to sleep after all” Jr suggested ”Close the door. Pile a bunch of furniture and minions in front of it, then when he tries to dig all of that up it's off to snooze land and we’re sorted”

Gallo cleared his throat. "Forgive me, I must have neglected to tell you. Consuls can warp space to travel long distances in an instant. I expect that is how he will reach the hideout in the first place, but he will only secure himself in the Capsule once he realizes that his hideout is no longer safe. You understand the problem that insinuates in your scheme, I trust?" The mage pinched the bridge of his nose, frustrated by the child's spitballing. "I understand your company possesses no small measure of power. I must urge you not to risk everything on cheap tricks, however. Even I must confess myself mystified by the exact nature of P's powers. I will leave his fate in your hands, just as I said I would, but not allow all this to come to naught."

”Well that is worrying news, even if I am able to do the same in a sense” the teleport capable Kamek nodded, before partially conceding ”Perhaps it would be best we wait till we can have a look at this hideout in person, to see what kind of ambush we can set up and if live capture is viable or not”

At the same time as their more private talk was occurring, a much more public debate over how they were going to deal with kid Consul P started taking place. On one side, the newly joined Ichiban was rather concerned about the, well, ethics of that, and on the other side, the only slightly longer serving party king of all evil declaring that age mattered not at all when it came to your foes.

Into this stepped seeker veteran and one time child killer Bowser, to take a (minor) stand against repeated failed child killer Ganondorf’s position ”Look, you and me, we might be bad guys, but we still got to have standards. Like maybe trying to not kill kids when you can avoid it. Beat him up if he’s able to put up a fight, sure. But let's not end him, alright?”

On the heels of that assertion, a now drake riding (it just felt right) Rika leaned in and asked ”Are we going to capture and interrogate him then? Because knowing your enemy and their movements and stuff is important, so you should try and find out that kind of thing and report it to your superiors” seemingly quoting out of some order or doctrine she had been given while part of the abyssal fleet, before correcting herself with ”Or wait no I mean use it for ourselves”

”Hmmm.” Bowser furrowed his brows for a few moments, and then agreed ”Yeah. That’s probably a thing Ka- I mean I could do stuff with that kinda information”
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